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Midland Main Line Upgrade Plan – Bedford to Kettering

Major work completed on Midland Main Line Upgrade

Overhead line electrification work near Kettering

We’ve completed the biggest improvements to the Midland Main Line since it was built in 1870, meaning more seats, faster journeys and more reliable services for passengers travelling between the East Midlands and London.

In the latest stage of the upgrade, teams have carried out vital work to install new overhead line equipment between Bedford and Corby, as well as improvements to station platforms and major work to upgrade bridges on the route – to make way for electrification between London St Pancras International and Corby.

All of this work means there will be 50% more seats for passengers travelling at peak times between Corby and London. The new train timetable was introduced on Sunday 16 May, and East Midlands Railway launched its new all-electric service between Corby and London St Pancras International, providing a sixth train per hour.

The upgrade, along with the new timetable, also boosts the number of seats on services across the East Midlands and cuts travel time between London and Derby, Leicester, Sheffield and Nottingham.

Electric trains are quieter and much better for the environment that diesel trains. They produce almost 80% less carbon, benefitting people who live and work near the railway.

Station improvements at Kettering and Wellingborough continue

Station improvement work at Kettering and Wellingborough began in May 2019 and will continue into Summer 2021.

Work at Kettering now completed includes, extended platforms 1,2,3 and 4, modifications to platform canopies to accommodate electrified overhead wires. We will be refurbishing canopies and reinstating some lost architectural details based on historic drawings of the station. We have also improved station lighting, CCTV and public announcement systems. Work to the canopies at Kettering is expected to be complete in summer 2021.

At Wellingborough station as well as building platform 4, we have extended and improved the existing platforms to reduce stepping distance onto trains.  The historic canopies have been refurbished, with The Railway Heritage Trust contributing a significant heritage grant to this part of the scheme.

Wellingborough goods shed
Station improvements at Wellingborough

New waiting shelters, lighting, CCTV and fencing have also been installed and the footbridge has been extended to platform 4. Stanton Cross Developments LLP contributed to the footbridge extension as part of its Stanton Cross development.   The Grade II listed Goods Shed has been renovated to provide a walkway for passengers on platform 1.

Minor snagging works and work to the canopy on Platform 1 are expected to complete in 2021.

Extensive work has already been carried out this part of the route as part of the Midland Main Line Upgrade, and has included:

  • New switches and crosses south of Kettering station which allows trains to connect to other tracks and to the main line to an electric stabling facility which is being constructed near Kettering station – all 4 tracks are now in place at Kettering sidings, this has involved 1425m of new plain line track and will supplement the Electrification of the MML by providing a stabling facility for the new electric trains.
  • 23km of new track has been laid to produce the fourth line.
  • 1.5 km of embankment works have been carried out.
  • 15 structures have been strengthened.
  • 105 new signals have been installed and 11 new signal gantries.
  • Stations have also seen upgrades as part of the programme in preparation for the fourth line and electrification, by building and extending platforms and adjusting canopies to accommodate overhead cables.
Overhead line electrification work

The benefits of the fourth line

The benefits of the additional line will add capacity to the route, enabling longer trains with more seats between Corby, Kettering and London St Pancras.

The new train timetable was introduced on 16 May 2021, and East Midlands Railway launched its new all-electric service between Corby and London St Pancras International, providing a sixth train per hour.

This has created:

  • Additional resilience to the operational railway
  • Improved timetable as a result of the additional line as allows for a second train per hour for Corby

The first section was successfully energised on 26 July 2020.

Electric trains are quieter, meaning less disruption for lineside neighbours and wildlife; and they produce less emissions at the point of use – which means they don’t contribute to local air quality issues often found in urban areas. 

Electric trains are also lighter, meaning that they need less power to do the same journeys.  The power supply for electric trains is supplied by the National Grid and an ever increasing amount of this power is being produced by renewable and low carbon technology, which means less fossil fuels and less emissions, and that means our railways are becoming more environmentally friendly.

Other work completed

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If you have any feedback about our work, please call our 24 hour helpline on 03457 11 41 41 or visit our contact page.

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