Aerial view of Kings Cross station

This August bank holiday, we carried out significant improvements at London King’s Cross as part of a broader £1.2bn upgrade of the East Coast Main Line.

They included transferring some of the area’s signalling to a state-of-the-art facility in York.

Across Britain, we’re aiming to bring signallers into modern centres of excellence and allow the railway to operate more efficiently for passengers and freight operators.

Almost £100m of August bank holiday upgrades delivered

East Coast Upgrade

Whats a Rail Operating Centre?

How are we improving the signalling at King’s Cross?

Between this summer and 2021, we’re moving signalling control to a Rail Operating Centre (ROC) to ensure better and more reliable signalling for the King’s Cross area.

Historically, local signal boxes – like the wooden ones you can still see outside some railway stations – controlled the safe movement of trains.

Today, we’re transferring signalling at railway stations across Britain to ROCs, which can more effectively manage the railway by covering much wider areas.

The tracks at Kings Cross station
London King's Cross

It means:

  • More reliable journeys because it gives signallers a greater overview of the railway across a larger area
  • Greater resilience when disruption occurs – our teams can make decisions faster
  • More cost-effective signalling control than smaller, more localised signalling systems
  • The development of centres of excellence
  • We can pave the way for more frequent trains with more seats for more passengers in future.
York Rail Operating Centre

We’ve already moved signalling in Allerton, Speke and Garston in Merseyside to our Manchester ROC. 

The same centre, which holds about 200 staff from Network Rail and train operators TransPennine Express and Northern, also took over signalling for the Liverpool Lime Street area in July last year as part of a major transformation of the station.

Last Christmas, we moved control of the signalling system from the Integrated Electronic Control Centre (IECC) to York ROC.

The IECC opened in 1989 and controlled signalling across a large area of the East Coast Main Line from Doncaster to Northallerton via York; the Transpennine route from York to Morley and Pudsey via Leeds, and the north Bradford lines to Skipton and Ilkley.

What did we do over the August bank holiday?

We carried out the first stage of the King’s Cross re-modelling and re-control project, which transferred control of signalling for Woodgreen, Langley and Hitchin from King’s Cross to a new control system at York ROC.

The Hertford loop workstation, previously re-controlled in December 2018, was absorbed into the Woodgreen and Langley workstations in their final configuration.

Doing this improves reliability and resilience by introducing emergency alarms at fringe boxes at Cambridge and Peterborough.

We plan to transfer the remaining signalling system at King’s Cross to York ROC in March 2021. Our What does Infrastructure Projects Scotland, North and East Hub Team, which looks after signalling, civils and track works, is overseeing the re-modelling.