East Coast Main Line

From Academic Kids


Missing image
The East Coast Main Line viaduct at Durham.

The East Coast Main Line (ECML) is a major railway line in the United Kingdom which links London to Edinburgh and Leeds. The Network Rail definition of the ECML includes four separate lines:

The line was originally built in piecemeal fashion by many small railway companies, but mergers and acquisitions led to only three companies controlling the route (north to south: the North British Railway, the North Eastern Railway and the Great Northern Railway). In 1860 the companies established the East Coast Joint Stock for through services using common vehicles. In 1923 all three were grouped into the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).

The ECML is one of the fastest railway lines in the UK, with most of the line rated at 125 mph (200 km/h). The InterCity 225 trains which serve the line would be capable of 225 km/h (140 mph) in normal service if the signalling were to be upgraded to handle the increased speed of traffic. They have operated at speeds of up to 260 km/h in test runs. The high speeds are possible because the line goes through the flatter eastern areas of England such as Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire which allow for a straight track. Heading south from Doncaster much of the line is straight. In contrast, the West Coast Main Line has to traverse the Trent Valley and the mountains of Cumbria, which means more bends, and a lower speed of 110 mph (178 km/h) (although this has been addressed in recent years by the introduction of Pendolino tilting trains).

The ECML has been the backdrop for a number of famous rail journeys and locomotives. The line was worked for many years by the famous steam locomotives "Flying Scotsman" and "Mallard": the latter was officially declared the world's fastest steam locomotive on the Grantham - Peterborough stretch, a title it holds to this day. Steam locomotives disappeared in the early 1960s, being replaced by diesels, the most popular of these being the InterCity 125 or "HST" (High Speed Train), introduced in 1976.

In what was seen by many as a surprising action for a Conservative government, the ECML was electrified in the late 1980s using state money.

The line's principal operator today is the Great North Eastern Railway (GNER), whose services include regular trains from Kings Cross to Leeds and Edinburgh. Other operators of passenger trains on the line are:

  • WAGN: suburban services between Kings Cross and Peterborough and between Moorgate and Stevenage via the Hertford Loop
  • Hull Trains: between Kings Cross and Doncaster, continuing to Hull
  • Central Trains: between Grantham and Peterborough, part of the service that runs between Liverpool Lime Street and Norwich
  • Virgin Trains: cross-country services north of Sheffield are routed via either Leeds or Doncaster. Leeds trains use the ECML between Wakefield Westgate and Leeds and then again north of York. Doncaster trains use the ECML north of Doncaster. Services run to and beyond Edinburgh. Occasional services run from Doncaster to Leeds before rejoining the ECML at York
  • Midland Mainline: between Doncaster and Leeds, part of services running to/from Sheffield, Leicester and London St Pancras
  • TransPennine Express: between York and Newcastle and between York and Northallerton before they divert off the ECML to Middlesbrough
  • Northern Rail: suburban services from Doncaster to Leeds and Morpeth to Newcastle and infrequent services between Newcastle and Darlington that continue to Middlesbrough and Saltburn
  • First ScotRail: services between Edinburgh and North Berwick

Railway lines in Great Britain:

<p style="font-size: 90%">High-speed main lines: <p style="font-size: 90%">Channel Tunnel Rail Link - Channel Tunnel
<p style="font-size: 90%">'Classic' main lines: <p style="font-size: 90%">Cross-Country - East Coast - Great Eastern - Great Western - Midland - West Coast
<p style="font-size: 90%">Other main lines: <p style="font-size: 90%">Brighton - Chiltern - Chatham - Hastings - Highland - Kent Coast - London, Tilbury & Southend - North Wales - Portsmouth Direct - Settle-Carlisle - Shrewsbury-Wolverhampton - South Wales - South Western - Welsh Marches - Wessex - West Anglia - West of England
<p style="font-size: 90%">Secondary routes: <p style="font-size: 90%">Airedale - Arun Valley - Ayrshire Coast - Birmingham-Peterborough - Caldervale - Cambridge-Norwich - Cotswold - Dearne Valley - East Coastway - Golden Valley - Glasgow South Western - Hallam - Harrogate - Harwich - Hope Valley - Huddersfield - Lea Valley - Leeds-Bradford - Medway Valley - North Downs - Pontefract - Robin Hood - Riviera - Wakefield - West Coastway - York & Selby
<p style="font-size: 90%">Commuter lines: <p style="font-size: 90%">Alton - Argyle - Bexleyheath - Birmingham Cross-City - Braintree - Butetown - Cardiff City - Caterham - Catford Loop - Chase - Coryton - Dartford Loop - Gospel Oak-Barking - Hayes - Hounslow Loop - Inverclyde - Ivanhoe - Maesteg - Merthyr - Mid-Kent - Morecambe - North Clyde - North Kent - North London - Northern City - Oxted - Rhondda - Rhymney - Romford-Upminster - Severn Beach - Sheerness - South London - St Albans Abbey - Sutton & Mole Valley - Tattenham Corner - Vale of Glamorgan - Walsall - Waterloo-Reading - West London - Wharfedale - Whifflet
<p style="font-size: 90%">Rural lines: <p style="font-size: 90%">Atlantic Coast - Avocet - Bittern - Buxton - Cambrian - Crouch Valley - Cumbrian Coast - Conwy Valley - Derwent Valley - Durham Coast - East Suffolk - Esk Valley - Far North - Felixstowe - Fen Line - Furness - Heart of Wales - Heart of Wessex - Island Line - Kyle of Lochalsh - Looe Valley - Lymington - Maritime - Marshlink - Marston Vale - Penistone - Ribble Valley - St Ives - Sudbury - Tamar Valley - Tarka - Tees Valley - Tyne Valley - West Highland - Wherry - Windermere - Yorkshire Coast
<p style="font-size: 90%">Closed major routes: <p style="font-size: 90%">Great Central - Honeybourne - Somerset & Dorset - Waverley - Woodhead


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