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Boosting power to run faster, quieter and cleaner trains

As part of our £1.2 billion East Coast Upgrade, we’re improving the power supply on the East Coast Main Line to enable faster, quieter and more environmentally friendly electric trains to run. The upgrade paves the way for the introduction of new trains, such as LNER’s Azuma and Hull Trains’ Paragon fleets.

Passengers will benefit from:

  • More seats and additional services
  • Improved performance and reliability

The upgrade will be completed in two phases:

  • Phase 1 – covering the route between London and Doncaster
  • Phase 2 – covering the route between Doncaster and Edinburgh

Phase 1

Phase 1 of the project began in 2014 and and was completed in 2020.

The following upgrades have already been completed:

  • installation of 23 substations along the route
  • laying 600km of new cabling
  • construction of foundations and structures to support overhead line equipment
  • new 400kv connection to the main National Grid

Further upgrades are planned to increase resilience and reliability along the route. These upgrades include additional sub-stations, track based cabinets and feeder stations.

Time-lapse footage of the installation of the new substation at Hitchin. Scheduled for commissioning in August 2017, Hitchin is one of the 23 substations making up the East Coast Main Line power supply upgrade project.

Phase 2

The Power Supply Upgrade powered forward into its second phase in September 2020, when a £216.2m contract was awarded to the Rail Electrification Alliance.

Phase 2 of the project involves the installation of feeder and substations along the route, capacity upgrades, new 132kv connection at Hambleton junction and upgrades to existing power supply connections.

This phase will deliver upgraded power to the East Coast Main Line railway between Doncaster and Edinburgh and will include:

  • Installing 27 new traction substations
  • Installing 1000 km new cabling including feeder cables and telecoms cabling
  • Construction of supporting foundations and structures for substations and to support overhead line equipment
  • Introduction of 2 New Static Frequency Converter Compounds at 132kV supply connection points
Power supply upgrade routes map
Click on the map to view the locations of the Power Supply Upgrade routes.

Case study – £0.5bn saved for power supply upgrade

On the East Coast Main Line, the old diesel fleet of trains is being replaced with a bigger fleet of new electric trains. They’ll be longer, cleaner, greener and much more frequent. All these additional electric trains mean we need to boost the power supply to run them. By using innovative, new technology called “Static Frequency Convertors” instead of traditional methods will save over £500m throughout the course of the project.

Ordinarily, we’d have to go where National Grid supplies are available, setting up a whole new power supply system and carry the power over long distances. We’d then have to close the railway; installing pylons, digging up the ground, laying cables – all very expensive to install and disruptive for passengers.

Hambleton site
Hambleton site

Instead, Static Frequency Convertors sit separately from the railway and “plug-in” to existing power cables. They take the local electricity supply and amplify, clean, and optimise it, providing the ideal power supply for trains. And they do this without disturbing the local power supply.

As well as saving £0.5bn, by retiring the diesel fleet of trains, this project is also saving around 154 tonnes of carbon per day – that’s the equivalent of planting over 2300 trees every day.

The Rail Electrification Alliance

Both phases of the project are being delivered by the Rail Electrification (REAL) Alliance which compromises of:

  • Network Rail
  • Siemens – traction power design, supply, installation and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition)
  • J Murphy and Sons – civil works and structures, cable and cable routes
  • VolkerRail – overhead line equipment works and signalling works
  • TSP Projects – professional consultancy and design support
  • Jacobs – professional consultancy and design support

For further information about the East Coast Main Line Power Supply Upgrade project, please contact Network Rail's National Helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

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