Edinburgh-Glasgow rail time to be cut to 40 minutes in £650m plan
PLANS to cut rail journey times between Glasgow and Edinburgh by ten minutes through electrification of the line have been set out by the Scottish Government.
• Rail journey times between Scotland’s two biggest cities cut by 10 minutes
• Wifi internet access on all trains on Edinburgh-Glasgow route
• Queen Street station to become transport hub
• Edinburgh Gateway Station to connect services with capital’s airport
But it marked a scaling down of the original proposals unveiled by ministers that aimed to reduce journeys to 35 minutes, instead of the 40 minutes now being planned. It follows a decision to cut the original £1 billion budget for an ambitious overhaul of services to about £650 million.
It also means plans for six trains an hour between the cities have been dropped and will remain at four.
It was branded a “step back” by opposition parties, and business leaders expressed disappointment at the announcement.
Transport minister Keith Brown said the “revamped” plans will save taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds and the original plans, which also included electrification of the line to Stirling and Alloa, “could be delivered in future phases.”
He added: “These enhancements will be a massive boost for both cities, and all the communities which surround them, as well as benefiting Scotland’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.
The changes will see longer electric trains introduced, along with improved reliability and increased capacity for passengers on the Edinburgh-Glasgow Queen Street line. Queen Street station is to become a more integrated transport hub, along with an Edinburgh “gateway” station with links to the Fife lines and airport. The programme will further include the electrification of Cumbernauld lines in time for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.
But Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the plans could have been “transformational” for rail transport in Scotland.
But she said: “Sadly, it looks as though this potential may fail to be realised. The new plans fail to achieve the improvements in journey times that have been promised, fail to guarantee the electrification of the network to Stirling and Dunblane and fail to deliver the six trains per hour between Glasgow and Edinburgh”
There are also growing concerns that the scheme may not be finished by 2016, in line with initial proposals.
CBI Scotland director Iain McMillan welcomed the decision to press ahead with electrification on the Glasgow-Edinburgh line.
But he added: “We regret that electrification to Dunblane and Alloa and the infrastructure improvements to provide for six trains per hour between Glasgow and Edinburgh will not be included.”
The introduction of new, modern, efficient electric carriages will mean a greener and quieter railway with lower carbon emissions.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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