New lineside equipment and technology has been installed on the railway line between Welwyn Garden City and Hitchin.

The start of the New Year has seen more progress with the transformational East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP).

Engineering work at the weekend and over the Christmas period saw further steps taken towards the introduction of state-of-the-art digital signalling - providing continuous, real-time information to the driver’s cab.

The technology will mean more reliable and greener services for passengers and freight, creating the next generation railway.

A successful testing of a new signalling system was carried out in the Wood Green-New Barnet area of North London.

This will improve reliability whilst also preparing the area for the future introduction of digital signalling.

The lineside equipment installed between Welwyn Garden City and Hitchin is in preparation for this section of the route becoming the first part of the East Coast Main Line to operate with digital signalling.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Engineers install new lineside equipment on the railway line.Engineers install new lineside equipment on the railway line. (Image: Network Rail)

David Horne, managing director at LNER, said: “The East Coast Digital Programme is taking our railway into a digital age.

“It will transform journeys for passengers by making them even smoother, more punctual and more sustainable.

“While the upgrades may see some changes to our services during planned works, this vital investment in digital signalling will bring long-term benefits and enable our Azuma trains to realise their full potential.”

The recent work has included the installation of around 120 axle counters and 40 balises - electronic devices placed between the rails to transmit information to and from the train - along with supporting infrastructure required.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Further progress has been made with the digital transformation as part of the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP).Further progress has been made with the digital transformation as part of the East Coast Digital Programme (ECDP). (Image: Network Rail)

There will be further work taking place at both locations over the weekend of Saturday, February 18 and Sunday, February 19, which will mean no train services in or out of London King’s Cross, St Pancras via Finsbury Park or Moorgate on those dates.

Ed Akers, principal programme sponsor for ECDP, Network Rail, said: “As we begin a New Year we’re continuing the work with all our industry partners towards the prize of a modernised, more reliable and greener railway.

“I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while this vital work was carried out, which is enabling further progress on the journey to a digitally signalled East Coast Main Line.

“I also advise passengers intending to travel over the weekend of 18/19 February to plan ahead and check before you travel, while we continue to work on digital upgrades.”

Strikes and the engineering work distrupted rail passengers over the weekend.

Jenny Saunders, customer services director at Thameslink and Great Northern, said: “I’m sorry that, on top of the strikes that affected so many of our customers, we also had to replace much of our service last weekend with buses for this planned essential work.

"However, the end goal will be worth it: digital signalling will give us all a better, more reliable railway between London and Peterborough.”