East Coast Mainline: Key Doncaster rail route suffered from 'lack of investment in recent decades'

A major rail line which runs through Doncaster has suffered from a 'lack of investment in recent decades' and more needs to be done in lobbying government for improvements.

Tuesday, 27th August 2019, 4:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 1:04 pm
Doncaster railway station is served by the East Coast Mainline
Doncaster railway station is served by the East Coast Mainline

The East Coast Mainline, which serves London in the south and Edinburgh in the north, is said to be 'ageing' with much of the line at, or near full capacity, Sheffield City Region bosses have said.

Calls have been made to speed up improving the line similar to major investment in the West Coast Mainline around 15 years ago. This was said to have instantly boosted capacity and journey times

Currently, Doncaster residents can reach London in 87 minutes, faster than from Sheffield along the Midland Mainline which takes around two hours.

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But a recent study has found Doncaster railway station was identified as a 'constraint' on the ECML due to the 'high number of services and limited platform and line capacity'.

Transport chiefs have said services like Cross Country are often held outside the station for up to 10 minutes waiting for a platform. The problems are said to be being addressed by Network Rail through timetable changes.

But the study found that over the longer term, increased services from cities like Manchester and Sheffield will need to be supported with 'more platforms, better operational flexibility, improved track layouts and line speeds'.

A grade-separated flyover was considered but ruled out due to 'engineering challenges' and 'value for money'.

Some stopping services between Sheffield and Hull/Scunthorpe are said to be terminated at Doncaster to reduce 'conflicting moves across the ECML' meaning passengers are having to change.

Alex Forrest, senior programme manager for transport at Sheffield City Region, said: "The ECML has generally been seen as the UK’s flagship rail line, linking London Kings Cross to Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland.

"Due to its largely flat and straight topography it has the highest average line speed of all the UKs rail lines, and therefore some of the most competitive journey times.

"But despite its status as the UK’s flagship rail line, the ECML has suffered from a lack of investment in recent decades, and as a result it is failing to perform to its full potential.

"Major investment was made in the West Coast Mainline about 15 years ago to bring it up to modern standards and this has significantly improved capacity, line speed and journey times on that line.

"Similar investment is now required in the ECML to enhance its performance and maintain the key role it plays in the UK’s transport network and economy."