Progress on the £1.5bn Midland Main Line upgrade took a major step forward, as Network Rail completed its most substantial works to date.
In the latest stage of the upgrade, teams 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 - making way for electrification between London St Pancras and Corby.
The newly-completed works will also mean more seats, faster journeys and greater reliability for passengers travelling between the East Midlands and London.
Alongside the upgrades, a new train timetable was introduced which brought in 50% more seats for passengers travelling between Corby and London at peak times.
East Midlands Railway, who operate on the line, also introduced a new all-electric service.
Travel times between London and Derby, Leicester, Sheffield and Nottingham have all been reduced following the upgrade, as well as increasing the number of seats on services across the East Midlands.
These improvements are hoped to enable more passengers to switch from road vehicles to train travel.
Gary Walsh, Route Director for Network Rail’s East Midlands route, said: “As passengers return to the railway, it’s great to be welcoming them back with the biggest improvements in a generation on the Midland Main Line.
“New overhead line equipment, as well as new track, new platforms and new bridges along the route, has made way for electric trains to run between Corby and St Pancras International.
“The major upgrade also brings faster, more reliable services which better connect passengers between the East Midlands and London.”
Will Rogers, Managing Director of East Midlands Railway, added: "We are delighted to be able to start this new and significantly improved timetable. The £1.5bn Midland Main Line upgrade has allowed us to offer more seats, quicker journeys and more frequent journeys to our passengers across both our Regional and Intercity network.
"The timetable includes earlier and later services supporting leisure, business and tourism journeys and will help to support the region's recovery out of the pandemic.”
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