ECML December 2024 timetable deferred

The December 2024 recast of East Coast main line services will not take place, with the Government agreeing to a recommendation from the industry working group developing the timetable to postpone the change.

In a statement, Network Rail’s Director of Network Performance Chris Curtis said: ‘Following lessons learned from introducing major new timetables, the industry steering group that oversees timetable introduction has concluded that there are too many outstanding issues to have confidence that the new East Coast main line timetable can be delivered robustly in December. We are all committed to working urgently together to find a way to deliver the benefits to passengers and freight users as soon as we can.’

The timetable change was intended to deliver of the benefits of Government investment in infrastructure and rolling stock on the ECML and had been confirmed by the Government in its budget in early March. The headline enhancements were on long-distance services, including the addition of a third LNER service each hour between London and Newcastle, enabling some Edinburgh services to be accelerated.

While some elements of the change will still proceed, the headline long-distance changes with LNER services, which would deliver the biggest revenue benefit, will not take place. Network Rail highlighted to Modern Railways that rail reform ‘is crucial to avoiding similar circumstances in future, as industry fragmentation makes finding a path to a reliable timetable in a timely manner a challenging task’. It said Great British Railways ‘is designed to provide a guiding mind that can ensure the best overall outcome for passengers and freight users when these types of issues come along’.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: ‘The need to defer the planned upgrade is not related to funding given we have invested £4 billion in infrastructure and new trains on this very route, but it is ultimately for industry to deliver timetable upgrades. 

‘While we're disappointed with the need to defer the full planned upgrade, we expect all industry partners to continue working on improvements as we seek to bolster transport more widely across the region – including by reopening the Northumberland line and redirecting HS2 funding to benefit more people in more places, more quickly.’

  • A full report will appear in the May issue of Modern Railways, out on 25 April.