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Passenger services start using Hitchin flyover

26 June 2013

Work on a £47m scheme to remove a major bottleneck to help reduce delays and increase future capacity has been completed.


The new rail link will avoid First Capital Connect trains travelling from London King’s Cross crossing three other lines to switch between the East Coast Main Line and the line to Cambridge. The new rail link means train service delays will be reduced by nearly 30,000 minutes every year, and will help to create the capacity to run more services when future timetables are developed.

Timelapse of the work over the last 18 months is on YouTube.

More capacity, better journeys

Over the past decade, the number of passengers travelling between Peterborough and London has increased by 35 per cent with an 18 per cent increase in journeys between London and Cambridge. This growth is expected to continue in the long term, as is freight traffic.

“The Hitchin flyover will make a real difference to passengers who travel on the East Coast Main Line, as well as people travelling to Cambridge and beyond. Improving the railway at Hitchin will solve the problems caused by the current track layout and help meet growing demand on the railway.

The new layout means trains will run more reliably and punctually. The work we have done has cleared one of the major bottlenecks on the route and is part of our wider effort to improve performance and increase capacity on the railway.”

Phil Verster, route managing director for London North Eastern 

Hitchin is part of a number of projects to increase capacity on East coast Main line. We are working on a number of schemes to improve train journeys and create capacity including:

  • A new passenger line and platforms between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace to ease congestion
  • Major junction remodelling at Shaftholme (near Doncaster) and Holgate (near York)
  • New platforms at Peterborough station and platform extensions
  • Enhancements on the route between Peterborough and Doncaster, via Lincoln, to provide an alternative freight route and create extra capacity on the East Coast main line for passenger trains

Driver training

First Capital Connect, like all train operating companies, complies with stringent safety standards to ensure that drivers have been properly trained in the characteristics, manoeuvres and signal layouts of all the routes they drive. From the week beginning 24 June 2013, drivers will be accompanied by trainers with the full knowledge of the route.

The driver training programme has begun ahead of the December 2013 timetable change, when more passengers will start feeling benefits of investment.

First Capital Connect will run up to three services a day over the flyover, but by December 2013 when they will have trained around 300 drivers on the new route, almost 600 trains a week will use the 2km single-track rail link.