THE six-week closure of the Winchburgh tunnel on the main rail line between Edinburgh and Glasgow this summer will “significantly disrupt travel”, Network Rail admitted today.
The track firm also confirmed The Scotsman’s revelation two weeks ago that no direct trains will run on the fastest route between the cities during the work between Saturday, 13 June and Monday, 27 July.
Passengers using the line will have to change at Linlithgow, with services cut from every 15 minutes to half-hourly.
Most trains on the three other Edinburgh-Glasgow routes take 50 per cent longer or more.
Direct trains between Dunblane, Stirling and Edinburgh will continue to run, but also take around 25 minutes longer - one third more than the normal journeys of just over one hour.
In addition, trains between Edinburgh and Fife will also be slower because they will have to share the line south of the Forth Bridge and Edinburgh with diverted Dunblane services.
There will be additional disruption at weekends during the work period affecting several lines.
Timetables and details of replacement buses will be published tomorrow at scotrail.com/winchburgh where outline details are already available.
The work in the tunnel, east of Linlithgow, is part of the £742 million Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement programme (Egip) to electrify the main line to cut journey times from 50 to 42 minutes, using new, longer trains from 2017.
The 44-day work will involve lowering and re-laying the twin tracks through the 330m-long tunnel to provide space for overhead power wires.
David Dickson, Network Rail’s route managing director for Scotland, said: “While we understand the inconvenience the closure of the tunnel will cause to some passengers, this is the safest and most effective way of delivering what is a very complex piece of engineering work.
“Our engineers will be operating around the clock over this 44-day period to complete this vital work and keep disruption to the railway to a minimum.”
ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery said: “We’ve designed a timetable that carefully balances the needs of all customers who use the affected routes.
“It provides the fairest practical solution – keeping as many people as possible on trains.
“Three other lines are available to people who travel end-to-end between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
“Passengers from Stirling/Dunblane have no alternative rail option so maintaining these connections was a really important consideration.”
Transport minister Derek Mackay said: “The Winchburgh tunnel works are a major milestone in Egip and will take us one step closer to the electrification of our busiest route.
“Once complete, Egip will deliver a 20 per cent reduction in journey times and 30 per cent more capacity within four years, as well as more comfortable, efficient and reliable trains.”
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