At the end of a £40 million project, a new, fifth platform has been opened at Stevenage station – a year early.
Construction work began, early in 2019, to build a dedicated fifth platform where GTR’s Great Northern trains from the Hertford North line, known as the Hertford Loop, could terminate and then return towards London, creating space on the existing platforms for Thameslink trains. Having the extra platform available would also allow the restoration of the train service between Stevenage and the Hertford Loop, which had been served by buses since May 2019.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris officially opened the new platform to the first weekday services on Monday 3 August. He hailed the completion of the project as an important milestone in the wider £1.2 billion upgrade of the East Coast main line between London and Edinburgh.
The restored train service running between Stevenage’s new platform and the Hertford Loop will be an improved all-day, twice-hourly service between Stevenage and Hertford North, giving passengers from the loop better connections with the fast, main line services which stop at Stevenage.
Network Rail worked with train operator GTR to accelerate the revised project which has been delivered over 12 months earlier than planned. The new platform includes a passenger lift and stairs to an extended station footbridge along with two waiting rooms, three sets of seating, a help point and ticket machine.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Our ambition is not just to deliver more punctual journeys, but to deliver major projects punctually as well.
“This new platform and track at Stevenage will mean more frequent and reliable services for passengers who use the line day in day out.
“Thanks to the hard work of Network Rail and GTR, who have worked tirelessly to accelerate the project, we have reached an important milestone in our ambitious £1.2 billion East Coast upgrade, which will bring improved connections, faster journeys, thousands of extra seats per day and more choice for passengers.”
Network Rail route director Paul Rutter added: “This vital project to build a bay platform at Stevenage is part of a programme of investment that will allow additional services to run on the East Coast main line, bringing more choice, more seats and a more reliable railway for passengers.
“It will also bring more resilient local services on the Hertford Loop, as trains will soon be able to terminate at Stevenage and then go back towards London.
“We would like to thank passengers who have needed to use bus replacement services between Stevenage and Watton-at-Stone, station users and people who live near the railway for their continued patience whilst this essential part of the East Coast Upgrade was completed. “
GTR’s chief operating officer Steve White looked forward to the enhanced services that the new platform will bring: “The most recent independent customer satisfaction survey showed Great Northern as the most improved operator. This is more good news for our customers.
“We have worked closely with Network Rail on this important project as part of the continuing transformation of our railway. This new, additional, platform will help us run services more punctually on both the Great Northern metro and mainline services.
“The new platform also means that we can start running our Hertford services to and from Stevenage again giving our customers from that area fast, convenient, step-free connections at the station to Cambridge, London, Gatwick and Brighton.”
As part of the government’s £1.2 billion investment in the East Coast Upgrade, major work is taking place at King’s Cross and near Peterborough, where a new flyover is being built at Werrington so trains, particularly freight, can get to and from the line to Spalding, freeing up space on the East Coast main line for extra passenger services.
This line is also set to become Britain’s first mainline digital rail link with £350 million of new investment to install state-of-the art electronic signalling designed to cut journey times and slash delays. Conventional signalling will be replaced with a digital system that allows trains to talk to the track allowing the smooth the flow of trains, making journeys safer and reduce signal failures that every year result in thousands of hours of delays.