ECML recast highlights timetable challenges


In May 2016 the regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), adjudicated track access applications from Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) and open access operators to use the East Coast main line (ECML). This triggered an assessment of the theoretical capacity that would be available once Network Rail had completed a number of infrastructure schemes, notably grade-separation atWerrington, a new layout at King’s Cross and boosting electrical supply.

ORR judged it would be possible to operate eight long-distance trains per hour to and from London. It decided that six should be allocated to the franchise operator (then VTEC, now LNER), with a further one in every other hour, and that the remaining paths would be allocated to the incumbent open access operators Hull Trains and Grand Central and to a new open access company, First East Coast Trains.

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