Shake-up on tracks as first new rail line in 25 years is completed

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THE first new railway line in Scotland for 25 years will be officially opened this week in advance of improved services for commuters on several lines across the country.

Jack McConnell, the First Minister, will attend a ceremony on Friday to mark the 35 million Larkhall-Milngavie scheme, that will increase the frequency of north-south services across Glasgow.

Trains will start running on new sections of the route from next Monday, when passengers on lines to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness will also gain extra services.

Robert Samson, of the Rail Passengers Council, hailed the improvements as "one of the most significant timetable changes of recent years".

The Larkhall-Milngavie work includes three miles of new track linking Larkhall with Hamilton, with new stations at Merryton and Chatelherault. It also includes a new mile-long section between Anniesland and Maryhill in north-west Glasgow, with a new station at Kelvindale.

The project will see trains running to Larkhall for the first time in 40 years, and double the frequency of Glasgow-Milngavie services to four an hour.

The new lines are the first since the re-laying of the Argyle line through Glasgow city centre in 1979. Other lines have reopened since then, including those linking Edinburgh with Bathgate and Newcraighall, but these were on existing tracks.

Elsewhere, North Berwick-Edinburgh trains will be extended to Haymarket, extra services will be introduced between Inverurie and Aberdeen, and the Garelochhead-Glasgow morning commuter trains will start from Arrochar & Tarbet.

A new commuter train from Kingussie to Inverness will be launched and the Tain commuter service to Inverness extended to start from Lairg.