Rail passengers face six weeks of misery from tomorrow as major works on the main line between Edinburgh and Glasgow get under way.
The closure of the Winchburgh Tunnel to allow a major electrification programme to go ahead will cut the line between Linlithgow and Edinburgh, adding at least 30 minutes to rail journeys across much of central and east Scotland.
From Monday, commuters heading in or out of Edinburgh by rail will have to board replacement bus services, or cram themselves on to slower services taking secondary rail lines.
Rail bosses warned travellers to plan ahead, as campaigners blamed lack of investment and a “can’t do attitude” for the disruption – and insisted all of the problems could have been avoided if a small length of track had been created.
Campaigners blasted the Scottish Government for abandoning plans to build a 3km stretch of track known as the Almond Chord, which could have served as a diversion around the Winchburgh Tunnel, and slammed suggestion it had been abandoned after Transport Scotland claimed the construction cost would have topped £100m.
Ken Sutherland, research officer at pressure group Railfuture Scotland, called those figures “science fiction” and said: “The Scottish Government has a can’t do attitude on rail infrastructure, which is why the Almond Chord was never built.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said the cost of constructing the Almond Chord would not have been “value for money”.
Phil Verster, ScotRail’s managing director, said the end result would be worthwhile.
“Electrifying the line between our two biggest cities will allow us to run faster, longer, greener trains that will cut journey times and increase the number of seats available on this key route,” he said.
No trains will run on the main line between Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street. Instead, replacement buses will connect Waverley, Haymarket and Edinburgh Park to Linlithgow, where trains will terminate.