Edinburgh/Glasgow rail tunnel to close for 44 days

Passengers travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh will be affected. Picture: Contributed
Passengers travelling between Glasgow and Edinburgh will be affected. Picture: Contributed
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PART of the main Edinburgh-Glasgow rail line will shut for one and half months for electrification of the Winchburgh tunnel in West Lothian, transport minister said today.

The news comes seven months after Scotland on Sunday revealed the tunnel would have to close for up to three months because of the need to reduce the track level to accommodate overhead power lines for electric trains.

Mr Brown said the closure was planned for the summer - thought to be 2015 - to reduce the impact on passengers.

He gave no details of how commuters would be re-routed, such as those travelling between Stirling and Edinburgh who use that part of the line, but alternative buses are expected to be laid on.

Some trains could also be diverted via Dalmeny, near South Queensferry, but trains would have to then reverse because a planned link line, or chord, was shelved by the minister last year to save money.

In a letter to MSPs in affected areas, Mr Brown wrote: “I can now confirm that the current assessment of the likely duration of the closure is 44 days, substantially less than the ‘three months’ being quoted in some quarters, with my officials continuing to work closely with both Network Rail and First ScotRail to try to reduce this duration even further.

“These works have been planned for summer months to reduce the number of passengers affected by the disruption, however, all connections will be maintained via diversionary routes.”

He said an estimated £10 million compensation would be paid to ScotRail because of the disruption to trains.

Mr Brown cut the electrification scheme - the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvements Programme (Egip) - by one third to £650m last year, with longer rather than more frequent trains now planned.

The originally proposed journey time saving between the cities has also been reduced, from 50 minutes to 42 minutes rather than 37 minutes. This improvement has also been delayed from 2016 to 2018.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency said: “We are confident that working together Network Rail and First Scotrail will minimise passenger disruption across the network during the Egip works.

“The decision to phase the delivery of Egip was prudent as the initial phase provides sufficient capacity well into the next decade when further decisions can be made around future phases of Egip aligned with considerations on High Speed Rail.”

He said the Dalmeny link line, or chord, would cost up to an estimated £175m.