Intercity Express Great Western & East Coast Routes
It's early days to be talking about the routes on which the newly introduced IEP trains will run. The trains are still in the development and test stage.
But we do already know the main line routes they'll run on - namely the Great Western Main Line and the East Coast Main Line.
As the IEPs are replacing existing intercity express trains, it's unlikely that any routes will change, though clearly there are likely to be some rearrangement in timetables and extensions of existing services.
In preparation for the arrival of the IEP's on the UK's western and eastern rail routes, the UK government is making considerable investment in track and station improvements. Both changes to platform length and rail gauge clearance are under scrutiny, with of course a major effort to electrify specific sections of track.
Trains on these routes are managed by First Great Western, and run from London’s super rail hub at Paddington out towards the Western and Southwestern regions of the UK - serving such major cities as Bristol and Cardiff in South Wales, and large towns such as Oxford, Newbury, and Swansea. The first trains are expected to be operating by December 2017, though it may be a year later before we see full IEP services on all routes.
Electrification on the GWML will allow the IEP's to run as far as possible under electric power with trains switching seemlessly to diesel power to continue journeys to unelectrified sections of track - a good example of this being on routes into the West Country where the power switchover will take place at Temple Meads/Bristol.
East Coast routes (click on the map to the right) run out of the recently refurbished King’s Cross station taking commuters towards the Northern areas of the UK via towns and cities like Leeds, Stevenage, Peterborough, York, Wakefield, Westgate, Newcastle, and Edinburgh. The East Coast IEP's will be seen in passenger service in 2018.
Improvements in services can be anticipated, with Virgin already having confirmed a roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes Harrogate direct service via Leeds from Kings Cross London.
Virgin have got the go ahead from the ORR (Office of Rail and Road) to increase the current number of trains running this ECML route to 14 daily from May 2019, with just a single stop at Horsforth on the Leeds-Harrogate section.
The trains will be known as the Virgin Azuma fleet.Running up to 2020, the IEPs should have further enhanced Virgin's East Coast rail services with improved connections to places such as Middlesborough, Huddersfield, Lincoln, and Bradford. All of these can expect additional trains on the routes.
For full details of current services and to keep up to date on any route changes, be sure to check out the Great Western and North East Main Line route map pages.