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£350m cut from Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme

‘Changed circumstances’ have forced cuts to the £1bn Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP), as the Scottish Government announced this morning that only £650m will now be spent, at least initially.

The current timetable of four trains per hour – rather than a hoped-for increase to six – will have to be kept, the Dalmeny chord will not be built, and less of the route than originally planned will be electrified.

Transport minister Keith Brown said: “While the original EGIP plans were the best way of achieving these improvements at the time, the new proposals not only secure faster times between Edinburgh and Glasgow, they will increase capacity, revitaliseQueen Streetstation and protect local commuter services intoGlasgow.”

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, told the Scotsman newspaper: “This was a project which had the potential to be transformational in terms of its impact on connectivity across centralScotland.

“Running a railway cannot be done on the cheap. This was an ambitious project that could have delivered much in terms of economic benefits by bringing two ofScotland’s great cities together. The Scottish Government’s announcement is a start but we are looking for a cast iron guarantee that the rest of this project will be delivered to a defined timetable.”

Paul Tetlaw, chairman of campaign group TRANSform Scotland, told the paper: “By taking out the Dalmeny chord, you can only run four trains an hour and people coming fromGlasgowcan no longer travel on the fast train and get off at the new interchange for the airport.

“They will have to get a slow service on the Airdrie-Bathgate line and get off atEdinburghPark, or come on the main line to Haymarket and get the tram out to the airport from there.”

But the smaller project will still create hundreds of new jobs, ministers suggest. Queen Street station will be revamped by 2015 through Network Rail, seeing an extended concourse, a new food court and link to the adjacent shopping centre.

A new station, Edinburgh Gateway, will see services from Fife connect toEdinburghairport and Cumbernauld line services will be electrified ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games inGlasgow.

Brown said: “These enhancements to the service will be a massive boost for both cities, and all the communities which surround them, as well as benefitingScotland's economy as a whole through additional jobs and investment. And of course, passengers will enjoy quicker journeys, full wi-fi connectivity and better trains.”

Dunblane/Alloa will not now be be delivered in this phase of improvements.

Transform Scotland director Colin Howden said: “Today’s announcement is merely a restatement of promises that the Scottish government has already made. What the Government is actually announcing today is cuts to theScotland’s flagship rail project.

“Instead of the previously-promised six trains per hour, we’re now only going to get four trains per hour.”

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