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The East Coast Main Line – origins

The East Coast Main Line is a 393 mile (632 km) long electrified high-speed railway linking London, Peterborough, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, and beyond.

The route forms a key north-south artery on the eastern side of Britain. It also carries key commuter flows for the north side of London. It's therefore hugely important to the economic health of a number of areas of the country. It handles cross country, commuter and local passenger services and carries heavy tonnages of freight traffic.

The line dates back to 1846 and was built by three railway companies, the North British Railway, the North Eastern Railway and the Great Northern Railway, each serving their own area – but with the intention of linking up to form the through route that became the East Coast main line.

The three main companies were amalgamated into one company (the London North Eastern Railway) in 1923. In 1948 the LNER became part of British Railways split between Scottish Region (north of the border), North Eastern Region (effectively the old North Eastern Railway area) and Eastern Region (south of Doncaster). Later in the mid 60s the North Eastern and Eastern regions were amalgamated into one Eastern Region.

The line has been the backdrop for a number of famous rail journeys and locomotives. It was worked for many years by Pacific locomotives, including the famous steam locomotives Flying Scotsman and Mallard. Through Government investment, the line was electrified in the late 1980s and electrification to Glasgow and Leeds was completed in 1990.