Northern City Line transformation completed by GTR and Network Rail
The transformation included renovations within four stations along the Northern City Line, as well as cleaning and renewal of tracks.
Credit: Govia Thameslink Railway
Passengers travelling in and out of Moorgate Station are now able to enjoy a smarter, cleaner, brighter route following a six-month programme of track renewal, station redecoration and intense cleaning through the Northern City Line tunnels and stations.
The coordinated work programme was undertaken and delivered by Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), who operate Great Northern train services between Hertfordshire and the City of London terminus.
Great Northern’s late evening and weekend services through the tunnels – which had been temporarily diverted to London King’s Cross Station while the essential work was undertaken – are now running again. This will help key workers and others who cannot avoid travelling to reach their destinations more efficiently.
The work programme that was completed by 17 May 2020 originally began in 2019, when Moorgate station itself was renovated with new tiling and better lighting. From December 2019, the programme was then extended to begin work within the tunnels and three other stations along the route – Old Street, Essex Road and Highbury & Islington.
Route Director for Network Rail’s East Coast Route, Paul Rutter, said: “Over the last year, Network Rail has carried out significant work to clean the tunnels on the Northern City Line and to upgrade the track along the route. This work will improve the reliability of services, as well as making the area more pleasant for passengers and workers who use these stations. This project, coupled with the work which Great Northern have done, will vastly improve passenger experience and we look forward to them reaping the benefits.”
The track and tunnel work will make services more reliable, reduce noise and vibration from the railway and improve the condition of the tunnels for both passengers and railway workers. Along with the improvements at the stations, and a new £240 million train fleet introduced in October 2019, the environment for passengers has been comprehensively transformed.
Using specialist machinery, Network Rail has cleaned almost 17km of tunnels, renewed over 3.4km of 40-year-old track and replaced more than 1km of the ballast. Essex Road’s platform walls have received the same comprehensive re-tiling as Moorgate. GTR’s contractors stripped away approximately 40 tonnes of old tiles – creating over 4,000 sacks of rubble – and covered an area of roughly 600m2 with new white and blue ceramics. At Old Street and Highbury & Islington, damaged and drab tiling has been removed or repaired, with walls resurfaced in readiness for future decoration. At all four stations, Network Rail has replaced the old light fittings with new LED lighting, and GTR have given the stations an extensive deep-clean.
Tom Moran, Managing Director for Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “Weekend and late-evening services in and out of Moorgate are back up and running, which will help key workers and others for whom travel by train is absolutely essential. Our passengers are already enjoying our new air-conditioned trains, which last year replaced the UK’s oldest electric mainline rolling stock with a modern, fit-for-purpose fleet. Now, they will also see brighter, cleaner stations on the Northern City Line between Finsbury Park and Moorgate.”
Network Rail plan to upgrade the signalling system in the tunnels over the next few years to a modern, reliable digital system, completing the line’s transformation to a 21st century railway. Further work will mainly be undertaken at night, without affecting passenger services.