2,000 more commuters anticipated on East Coast line

THE East Coast main line looks set to get even more business over the next few years, with 2,000 extra commuters using Huntingdon and St Neots stations and 10 extra daily freight trains. Network Rail, the not-for-profit company that owns the tracks and st

THE East Coast main line looks set to get even more business over the next few years, with 2,000 extra commuters using Huntingdon and St Neots stations and 10 extra daily freight trains.

Network Rail, the not-for-profit company that owns the tracks and stations, has issued a new draft strategy for the future of the line over the coming 15 years.

"All the proposals are subject to government funding, so there is no actual commitment for most of the schemes," said engineer and rail campaigner Nick Dibben, who lives in St Ives and has analysed the route utilisation strategy.

"The report notes that both passenger and freight demand are likely to increase in the next 15 years. It suggests a 20 per cent increase for Peterborough passengers. It does not give a specific figure for Huntingdon or St Neots, but a report by the Government a few years ago suggested 2,000 additional commuters each day from the two stations by 2016."


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He said the report identified a number of proposals that would affect rail passengers in the area, including schemes already committed, such as an extra platform at Kings Cross, minor work to the overhead line power supply and some proposed timetable changes from the operator, First Capital Connect.

Further schemes expected between 2009 and 2014 involve major power supply upgrades to allow more or longer trains, an extra platform at Finsbury Park, improved Hertford Loop power and signalling to give more capacity when used as a diversionary route, an extra platform at Peterborough, 12 car platforms at FCC stations, and a flyover at the junction with the Kings Cross-Cambridge line at Hitchin on which detailed design is about to start.

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Over the longer term (2014-2019) the report says that the Thameslink project - which will allow trains to run through London to Kent and Sussex - is needed or FCC trains will become very crowded: there is limited scope for more 12-car trains at Kings Cross.

Platforms 9, 10 and 11 at Kings Cross could become 12 car at the cost of losing one or more platforms.

Crucially, Mr Dibben added: "There is nothing on Welwyn Viaduct (the route's principal bottleneck) - it is not even looked at and rejected. This section will be used at 18 trains per hour (ie 100 per cent capacity during peak periods).

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