Network Rail reached a significant milestone in work to upgrade the line between London and Corby as overhead line masts for electrification were installed on the route for the first time in more than 40 years.
The improvements being delivered will enable fast, comfortable and green services, with more seats.
The work is part of the biggest upgrade of the Midland mainline since it was completed in 1870, which will see improvements up and down the route and an investment of over £1bn. This latest milestone saw 40 masts erected on a section of the line between Kettering and Corby in just a few days. When the work is complete, it will benefit both passengers and lineside neighbours.
The new structures will hold the overhead line equipment that will carry 25,000 volts needed to power new trains on the route and were installed by engineers who had to carefully align and then secure the five-metre masts onto cylindrical, steel piles, which were installed earlier this year.
This landmark step builds on upgrades that have already taken place on this part of the Midland mainline. This includes raising and strengthening bridges and installing 10,000 yards of fencing to maintain a safe distance from electrified wires, as well as installing new track and signalling between Kettering and Corby to increase capacity for both passenger and freight services.
The Midland mainline upgrade also includes installing new track south of Kettering; resignalling, track and platform construction and line speed improvements in Derby; capacity and line speed improvements between Bedford and Market Harborough; and longer platforms and a more accessible station at Market Harborough.
From 2020, passengers will benefit from smoother journeys, more seats and a modern and reliable railway. Those living near the railway will also benefit from reduced noise and emisisons with the introduction of a modern fleet of trains.
Reaching this landmark step on the upgrade of the Midland mainline has real significance. It brings us a step closer to transforming rail travel for passengers in the East Midlands region as well as those travelling through it.
Coupled with our projects elsewhere on the route, this upgrade will bring real, meaningful benefits to the communities and economies our railway serves.
We are working closely with Network Rail along the length of the Midland mainline to deliver benefits for customers as swiftly as possible.
It is therefore great news to see the first new masts going up and we will continue to work together to deliver the improvements and investment across the region.
Jake Kelly, managing director at East Midlands Trains