Christmas and New Year work to upgrade 1970’s track between London and Kentish Town

Friday, 19 November 2021

  • Final stage of programme to upgrade 1970’s track between Kentish Town and London St Pancras is taking place over Christmas
  • Improvements will bring a more modern reliable railway for passengers and reduce the impact of unplanned disruption
  • Network Rail is taking the opportunity to make major progress when no train services are timetabled on Christmas Day or Boxing Day
  • Reduced East Midlands Railway and Thameslink services from Monday 27 December until Tuesday 4 January – passengers encouraged to plan ahead

Network Rail is carrying out major work this Christmas to upgrade the track between St Pancras International and Kentish Town to bring smoother, more reliable journeys for passengers.

Between the early hours of Christmas Day and before the first service on Wednesday 5 January 2022, engineers will work around the clock to remove the last section of slab track on the route, which was installed in 1979.

This type of track has reinforced concrete slab underneath it. Over the festive period, it will be removed and replaced with ballasted track – with stones and sleepers to support it.

The complex project, which began in 2017, will bring a more modern railway for passengers and boost reliability. These improvements will also help to reduce the amount of maintenance and future disruption required.

With no timetabled train services on Christmas Day and Boxing Day on this part of the railway, Network Rail is taking the opportunity to make major progress on the project, which has been carefully planned to avoid disruption at busier times.

Work will continue after Christmas and trains will keep passengers moving, but reduced Thameslink and East Midlands Railway services will be in place between Monday 27 December and Tuesday 4 January.

Passengers travelling over Christmas and New Year are advised to check their journey via National Rail Enquiries or with their train operator and allow plenty of time.

Gary Walsh, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Midlands route, said: “As most people open their presents and enjoy the festivities, our teams will be taking the opportunity to make major progress on the final stages of this programme. The current slab track has served this busy line well for forty years, but we’re replacing it now to make sure trains can continue running safely and reliably for years to come.

“We can only complete this work safely when a reduced train service is running. I want to thank passengers for their continued patience and ask anyone who plans to travel over the Christmas period to check their journey, plan ahead and allow plenty of time.”

Jenny Saunders, Customer Services Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “The Kentish Town project is bringing our passengers a more modern, reliable railway. We’re able to run a reduced service so that people can still travel during the work, and we advise customers to check train times in advance.”

Neil Grabham, Customer Service Director for EMR said: “We know that many of our passengers will be using our train services to travel around and visit family and friends over the Christmas period.

“Any passengers planning on travelling between Monday 27th December and Tuesday 4th January are advised to check our website and plan their journey in advance, as we will be running a reduced EMR Intercity service to and from London St Pancras.

“We would like to thank passengers for their patience whilst this crucial engineering works are taking place.

Network Rail will be making the most of the access to the track during Christmas day and Boxing Day to also:

Carry out work at Sundon feeder station – this old power station has been replaced as part of our investment to enable more electric trains to run on our route. Teams will be carrying out decommissioning work.

Replace the deck of a bridge which carries the railway over the canal at Cranfleet cut in Long Eaton. The old bridge will be replaced over Christmas with follow-up work at New Year.
Carry out more work to allow the railway up to Market Harborough to be electrified and dozens of maintenance activities.