Rail line celebrates 170th anniversary

Train enthusiast, broadcaster and former MP Michael Portillo is presenting a series of commemorative

Train enthusiast, broadcaster and former MP Michael Portillo is presenting a series of commemorative videos marking the transformation of the railway line running through Huntingdon and St Neots over the decades. Picture: Submitted. - Credit: Archant

The railway line running through Huntingdon and St Neots is celebrating 170 years of service and Great Northern has released a series of commemorative videos which mark the transformation of the route over the decades.

Linking the region to London, the line played a key part in helping deliver growth across Huntingdonshire.

Each day thousands of commuters and passengers use the line which is undergoing a £1.2 billion upgrade and which is being served by more trains than ever.

Train enthusiast, broadcaster and former MP Michael Portillo is presenting the videos.

Steve White, chief operating officer at train operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), said: “It is 170 years since the first Great Northern Railway train carried passengers between Peterborough and London. The railway has a proud history and a bright future. It is now undergoing a digital transformation.

“We have introduced new fleets and expanded services increasing connectivity and accessibility. In the last independent passenger survey Great Northern was the most improved operator.

He said: “We are proud to be the custodian of the iconic Great Northern name. This railway continues to serve as a vital route into London and, together with Network Rail and the East Coast Upgrade project, we will continue to invest and transform this railway for the benefit of customers.”

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Michael Portillo added: “The line from Peterborough to London King’s Cross is steeped in railway history, and it was great to be involved in marking this significant milestone for the railway.

“The East Coast Mainline is one of Britain’s most important railway arteries. Over the years it has played a key part in the growth of towns and cities along the route, and still does today – which is definitely worth celebrating.”

Designed and built by the pioneering Cubitt family, the Great Northern Railway was opened in 1850 and helped to deliver growth along the route, with many areas benefitting from the railway’s direct connectivity to London.

GTR has operated the Great Northern brand since 2014 and, together with Thameslink, is running more trains than ever before.

The videos tell the story of the line from steam to electric trains and look into its future.

The £1.2 billion East Coast Upgrade includes improvements to Kings Cross.

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