Travel Updates


Major improvement works taking place in 2021 and beyond

Over the coming months and years, there will be a number of major improvement works taking place across the rail network, including in and around London.

The timescales on this page are subject to amendment due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Please find below our detailed overview on the following key railway improvement projects:


 Elizabeth Line

The Elizabeth line will transform travel across London, boosting the economy by billions of pounds and supporting thousands of new jobs and homes. The line, currently being constructed by Crossrail, will be named after the UK's longest serving monarch when it becomes operational.

Stretching over 60 miles from Reading and Heathrow Airport to the west of London across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, the Elizabeth line will stop at 41 accessible stations and is expected to serve approximately 200 million people each year.

A fleet of 66 new 200 metre long trains built in the United Kingdom will run on the Elizabeth line, featuring:

  • Nine fully interconnected walk-through carriages
  • Air conditioning
  • CCTV
  • Information on next stops for customers
  • Four dedicated wheelchair spaces as well as separate multi-use spaces for buggies, luggage and bicycles
  • Intelligent lighting and temperature control
  • Regeneration of electricity back into the supply when braking, using up to 30% less energy.

Crossrail Ltd has issued (December 2020) its latest update on progress to complete the Elizabeth line and confirmed that it plans to open the central section between London Paddington and Abbey Wood in the first half of 2022.

Following the opening of the central section, the introduction of full services across the Elizabeth line route, from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, will be aligned with the National Rail timetable change which occurs twice a year in May and December.

High Speed Two (HS2)

High Speed Two, mostly referred to as simply HS2, will be the new rail network between London, the West Midlands and the North.

Phase One will link London Euston and the West Midlands. Phase One is expected to open between 2029 and 2033.

Phase 2a will follow, linking Phase One to Crewe on the high speed line.

Phase 2b will extend the high speed network from Crewe to Manchester, and from the West Midlands to Leeds.

Trains will run on the new lines at speeds of up to 225 mph. Each train will be 400 metres long and will carry up to 1,100 customers. There will be up to 14 trains per hour in each direction.

The first HS2 phase includes a revamp and expansion of London Euston station, there will be a new Old Oak Common station in west London, and two new Birmingham stations at Curzon and Interchange.

At London Euston, HS2 will deliver 11 new platforms in two phases. This will more than double capacity at the station, as well as providing a new concourse and expanded Underground station, linked for the first time to the nearby Euston Square tube station.

Twin 13 mile (21 kilometre) long tunnels, the biggest tunnelling project since Crossrail, will take trains out of London via a new station at Old Oak Common linked to Crossrail.

More details on this project are available here.

The East Coast Upgrade

£1.2 billion is being invested to upgrade the East Coast Main Line. This will allow more trains to run and deliver quicker, more reliable journeys across the route between London Kings Cross, the north of England and Scotland.

Once complete in 2021 the upgrade will deliver extra capacity for an additional two long-distance services an hour in and out of London. That's an extra 10,000 seats per day!

There are three separate projects as part of this upgrade:

  • London Kings Cross track improvement - Kings Uncrossed - A complete renewal of infrastructure and redesigned track layout on the approach to Kings Cross to allow more long distance trains to run to / from London and improve reliability.
  • New platform at Stevenage - A new platform and track at Stevenage station opened in early August 2020 so trains from the Hertford North line (known as the Hertford Loop) can terminate and go back towards London without using up capacity on the existing tracks. This enables more services to run in future while improving resilience and reliability.
  • Werrington Dive Under, north of Peterborough - a new section of railway which will go under the East Coast Main Line so trains can cross the route to Spalding. This will free up space on the East Coast Main Line allowing more trains to run.

You can find out more about The East Coast Upgrade at

Further closures of London Kings Cross will be taking place during 2021. Please check before you travel.

Gatwick Airport station improvements

Network Rail is delivering a vital £150m upgrade to Gatwick Airport station to relieve crowding, improve accessibility and reduce delays for commuters and leisure travellers. With the number of customers visiting the station set to grow, this important investment will upgrade the railway station and help the airport to play an even bigger role in the local economy’s growth as a hub for international visitors.

The work will be ongoing until 2023:

  • Stage 1: Platform 7 closed (until January 2021)
  • Stage 2: Platforms 5 and 6 closed (January 2021 - May 2022)
  • Stage 3: Platforms 3 and 4 have lift and staircase installed (January 2021 - November 2021)
  • Stage 4: Concourse work begins (June 2021 - May 2022)
  • Project completion: 2023.

While these platform works are underway, an amended timetable has been introduced by the train operating companies that serve the station. The timetable change is necessary because the platform works will prevent trains from stopping at some platforms and a 30mph speed restriction will be in place when trains pass through the worksite.

The station upgrade will:

  • Double the size of the station concourse through the construction of a new concourse above platforms 5, 6 and 7, the refit of the existing station concourse and the construction of a new separate staff building to create more space for customers
  • Improve customer access for wheelchair users and those with luggage by building five new lifts.
  • Improve general access by installing eight new escalators, four new stairways and improved wayfinding throughout the station buildings
  • Reduce platform overcrowding and reduce train delays across the network by widening platforms 5 and 6. This will make it much faster for passengers to get on and off trains.

Bristol Temple Meads improvement work

During Summer 2021 Network Rail will be replacing Bristol East Junction, which is a key junction on the approach to Bristol Temple Meads station. Work will also be taking place on improvements to Bristol Temple Meads station itself.

Bristol East Junction is situated to the north-east of Bristol Temple Meads station. The Junction allows trains to be directed either onto the line between Bristol Temple Meads and Bath Spa, or onto the line between Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway / South Wales. Every train to and from Bristol Temple Meads, travelling to or from the North of England, the Midlands, London and South Wales goes through Bristol East Junction - its an extremely busy intersection!

The work will be taking place over an eight week period, from Saturday 10 July to Friday 3 September 2021. During this time you may find that your journey will be disrupted by line closures, which may involve you needing to use road replacement transport, and even the closure of Bristol Temple Meads station itself on some days.

More details on the impact you can expect on your journey to, from and through Bristol Temple Meads will be published here nearer to the time. 


Details of planned engineering work for approximately the next 12 weeks is available on our Future Engineering Work page.

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Last updated:   10 March 2021