Could 140mph trains soon be running between King’s Lynn and London King’s Cross?

The single railway track at Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

The single railway track at Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A new train control system could help cut delays on the King's Lynn to London line.

West Norfolk council, the Fen Line Users Association, Norfolk County Council and the King's Lynn BID have issued their response to a consultation which proposes slightly increased journey times between Lynn and London.

Network Rail blames the length of single-line sections between Lynn and Littleport, which limit where trains can pass. Now the rail operator is proposing to introduce new technology which replaces signalling with 'in-cab digital technology'. It says this would enable the safe distance between trains to be rerduced, meaning more services could be run on the network.

Andy Tyler, secretary of the Fen Line Users Association, said: 'We welcome the proposed introduction of the Digital Railway programme, including the European Train Control System (ETCS) on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) and call for its earliest introduction on the entire King's Cross to King's Lynn route.

'Network Rail's Digital Railway Programme Strategic Plan, published in February 2018, clearly shows how much of the ECML and the Hitchin-King's Lynn section are ETCS ready.'

'We understand that the class 110 mph 387 trains used on King's Lynn-King's Cross services are designed for easy fitting of ETCS equipment. ETCS would not only assist in improving capacity on the ECML, but also on other busy sections of the King's Lynn-King's Cross route. Additionally, it could permit the 'flighting' of trains running in the same direction over the two single line sections between King's Lynn and Littleport, which is not currently possible, and is a source of delays.'

Network Rail's study says: 'By replacing conventional signalling with

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in-cab digital technology, headways – the safe distance between trains – could be reduced significantly. This provides some additional line capacity which could be used to fit more trains on the network, additional capacity could also be used to reduce the risk of delay As new signalling technology is put into place, opportunities exist to improve linespeeds up to 140 mph and drive down journey times. There is a virtuous relationship between new equipment, improved safety, faster journey times and a more reliable network.'