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Whifflet route to be electrified ahead of 2014

The last elements of the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) will not be complete until 2018 – although elements of the electrification programme have been brought forward.

The line between Glasgow, Rutherglen and Coatbridge (the Whifflet route) will be fully electrified ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Games, Scotland’s transport minister Keith Brown announced, four years ahead of schedule at a cost of around £30m.

Work on the overall programme is pressing ahead and “on track”, he announced, with the £650m electrification programme set to reduce journey times to just 42 minutes.

But opposition MSPs said the announcement meant EGIP would be delayed until 2018. Scottish Labour's Richard Baker said: “It’s laughable that Transport Scotland and Keith Brown are describing EGIP as ‘on track’ when they have already cut funding and are now announcing further delays to the schedule.

“We raised our concerns about the delivery of the programme back in September 2012 and there has been very little progress made since then.”

Brown said: “The Scottish Government is determined to deliver rail services that connect communities with cities and people with jobs, and EGIP is playing a central role in delivering that ambition. I was delighted to be able to update Parliament today on the many elements of the schemes which are now completed, currently under construction, or being planned.

“In particular, I was delighted to announce that the Scottish Government has approved industry plans to bring forward the electrification of the Whifflet route in time for the Games next summer, some four years ahead of schedule. Delivery of the deal, which will see an investment of some £29.6m to electrify this stretch of track, will allow greater flexibility in deploying trains to help meet passenger demand during the games, as well as free up rolling stock to run elsewhere on the network, including during the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September 2014.

“I also updated Parliament on the elements of new services on the Edinburgh-Glasgow line via Carstairs which are now complete a year ahead of schedule, electrification of the Cumbernauld line which will also be ready ahead of Commonwealth Games next year, and the £27m Haymarket station revamp which is on target to be open to the public by the end of this year.

“Work to electrify the Stirling-Alloa-Dunblane line is progressing well and is due for completion by the end of 2018. The 42-minute fastest journey time on our flagship route between Edinburgh and Glasgow via Falkirk High is to be implemented, following completion of the electrification programme.

“With record passenger numbers over last year at over 83 million – up one third since the start of franchise, more than 2,400 services a day, and recent surveys showing passenger satisfaction high, we’re making significant strides to meet our ambitions for the rail network in Scotland, with EGIP playing a key role in that.

“Elsewhere, further progress has been made on the new Caledonian Sleeper franchise, with Pre-Qualification Questionnaires returned from four bidding parties and invites to tender for the new longer 15-year contract due to issue later this summer. Coupled with the £100m-plus made available for the upgrade to what is a unique and special service, we are preparing the ground for a new enhanced Caledonian Sleeper.

“We want to continue to build on our track record of developing the rail network and services. Since 2007, we’ve seen eight new stations and 30 miles of new track built, and recently made a £30m fund available for more new stations and station upgrades in the coming years. Construction of the £295m Borders Railway, which will see 35 miles more track connecting communities with cities and people with jobs, is also well under way with passenger services due to run in 2015.

“Our £5bn programme of investment in Scotland’s rail infrastructure and services between 2014 and 2019, including £3bn of capital investment to support the operation and maintenance of our existing network, will enable us to take forward a series of strategic enhancement projects right across our rail network.

“All of this is tangible evidence of our determination to make investments that will leave a lasting legacy and crucially build a railway for the people of Scotland fit for the 21st century.”

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John Dalton   07/06/2013 at 13:15

What seems to be forgoten is that British Rail provided a 45 min journey time between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street around 1984 - and with unparralelled punctuality to boot.

Ricp   09/06/2013 at 11:42

This is the RIGHT priority for electrification, as it is wiring up sections which should have been wired up ages ago. It means a very simple wiring up project means another service using the underutilised Glasgow Central Low line to provide a better service through Dalmarmock for the 2014 games. It is blindingly obvious to everyone other than an ill-informed politician whingeing about EGIP where priorities have changed. Once EGIP via Falkirk High is completed, the link into Grahamston from both Cumbernauld and Croy will be a simple infill, from which the Stirling Line is the logical extension. This scheme releases at least 7 urgently needed DMUs with a more efficient use of electric units. Simple!

Nonsuchmike   20/12/2013 at 19:53

I am delighted to see the good example that Scotland has set in electrifying more line more quickly, and actually building more new track per passenger than England have done recently. And now we have Haymarket, a station I loved when in Scotland as well as local restaurants, improved out of all recognition. Well done. However, any slow down in this rate and budget cutting is to be abhorred, as is the procrastination on linking Glasgow Airport to the rail network. What all these measures show with the great increase in rail users in the last ten years is that if you improve the frequency of trains where people need them most, more paying customers will use the railways as their preferred mode of transport - something even we Sassenachs have been telling successive Governments for 50 years.

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