The major upgrade of the line between Kettering and Corby reaches the next stage in February as testing begins on the newly fitted equipment.
Since 2014, work has been taking place to build a second track on the seven-mile stretch between the two Northamptonshire towns as well as installing the associated junctions, signals and foundations for overhead line equipment that will create the potential for a more frequent and reliable service in the future.
The project is a key part of the biggest upgrade of the Midland Main Line since it opened in 1870 and will support better journeys not just between Northamptonshire and London, but the entire length of the line right through the East Midlands and to Sheffield.
With much of the infrastructure for the extra line now in place, a nine-day period of testing is required meaning there will be no passenger trains between Corby and Kettering on Saturday 17 February until Sunday 25 February, with a bus replacement service in place.
East Midlands Trains services to all other stations are unaffected and will run as normal.
An information event will take place at Corby Station on Tuesday 30 January between 6.30am and 1.30pm for passengers who like to find out more about both the work involved and the travel arrangements.
Spencer Gibbens, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “A significant amount of work has taken place on the route between Kettering and Corby since this part of the Midland Main Line upgrade began and the project is now approaching the final stages.
“To safely test the new equipment, our engineers need a nine-day period of ‘wheels free’ access to the railway, meaning a short period of bus replacements between Kettering and Corby is unavoidable. From 2020, when the upgrade of the Midland Main Line is complete, passengers will really see the benefits of this investment and I’m grateful for their patience while the work is carried out.”
Jake Kelly, Managing Director, East Midlands Trains, said: “The final testing of this seven-mile stretch of track is an important milestone for the upgrade of the Midland Main Line.
“Although the main benefits of this work will arrive in 2020, it will help to maintain a reliable service for our customers today, including providing a new diversion route if the main line to London is disrupted.
“While this work is being carried out, we will be providing a bus replacement service between the two stations as well as ensuring staff are on hand at both stations to help customers.
“Passengers should check with eastmidlandstrains.co.uk for details about the journey between Kettering and Corby during this time.
So far the Kettering to Corby route has seen:
Fourteen bridges and viaducts strengthened – including Harpers Brook Viaduct, a 12 arch brick structure constructed in 1879
21 kilometres of track laid (12km of new track and 9km renewal of exiting track)
4km of drainage equipment installed
15km of railway embankment stabilisation completed
73km of signal and power cabling laid
Six new signal gantries erected
The creation of a wider ‘gauge’ – meaning larger freight containers can be transported on the route