ONE of the biggest contracts to electrify the main Edinburgh-Glasgow rail line was awarded today to Costain and Morgan Sindall by Network Rail.
The £250 million deal is for installing overhead electric wires over the 45-mile line, lengthening station platforms to take longer trains, and track improvements.
The contract, which is part of the £742m Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (Egip) to electrify the route by the end of 2016, is itself almost as big as that for construction of the entire Borders Railway scheme.
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The work will also involve closing Winchburgh tunnel in West Lothian for six weeks to make space for the electric wires.
Piling work for the foundations of the gantries which will support the electric wires started this week and will continue until next summer.
Dutch firm Abellio, which takes over the ScotRail franchise next year, has said brand-new electric trains will start running on the line at the end of 2017.
However, the planned journey time cut from the current 50 minutes to 42 minutes will not happen until the end of 2018, as The Scotsman revealed last year.
Longer trains - eight carriages rather than the current six-carriage maximum - will also not run until then.
This followed Egip’s budget being cut by £350m in 2012 to save money, when more frequent trains and a planned 37-minute journey time were shelved.
Separate contracts will involve a major upgrade of Queen Street station in Glasgow to accommodate the longer trains and link to an extension of the Buchanan Galleries shopping centre - which will not now be finished until March 2019.
Today’s deal follows the firms winning “alliancing” contracts in January to develop detailed plans for Egip.
Costain has also won a £75m Egip contract for route clearance work.
Its other rail work included helping to build the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and the subsequent transformation of St Pancras station into its new London terminus.
Morgan Sindall’s work in Scotland has included on the M74 extension in Glasgow.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said today: “This £250 million contract marks a significant milestone in the Egip project.
“It will provide 20 per cent quicker journey times, 30 per cent more capacity and a complete overhaul of stations in both cities, with the new-look Haymarket station already completed on time and under budget and the planned transformation of Queen Street station into a 21st century transport hub.”
Rodger Querns, Network Rail programme director for Egip, added: “Egip is transformational in its scope and scale, and will herald a step-change in the nature of our railway infrastructure, its resilience and reliability.”
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