Over £1.2m a day spent on Scotland’s railways

Workers on the new Borders railway. Picture: Neil Hanna
Workers on the new Borders railway. Picture: Neil Hanna
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THE sheer scale of spending on improving Scotland’s rail network was revealed today with Network Rail announcing £224 million of work done between April and September - the equivalent of more than £1.2m a day.

The figure was included in the track firm’s half-year results, which showed it had spent £2.74 billion, or £15m a day, across Britain over that period - one third more than last year.

Work in Scotland included rebuilding Haymarket station in Edinburgh at a cost of £25m, which is due to be completed in a month’s time.

New platforms and passenger lifts have been built at other stations, along with new footbridges, and track and signalling upgrades.

Ongoing major projects include the £294m construction of the 30-mile Borders Railway between Edinburgh and Tweedbank, south of Galashiels, which is due to open in 2015. The total project cost is £353m.

The spending figure comes two days after the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency revealed plans for growth under the next, ten-year ScotRail train operating franchise, which will be the country’s biggest public contract at £6bn.

ScotRail’s passenger total has already increased by one third to more than 83m a year since 2004.

Network Rail’s spending south of the Border over the last six months includes completion of a £550m upgrade of King’s Cross station in London, and the £47m removal of a major bottleneck further up the east coast main line to Scotland with a new flyover at Hitchin in Hertfordshire.

Network Rail group finance director Patrick Butcher said: “The railway continues to experience tremendous growth and we are responding to that demand through the biggest sustained investment programme since Victorian times.

“With a million more trains and half a billion more passengers than ten years ago, our railways are all but full.

“We are squeezing all we can out of the existing network and new railway lines, such as HS2 [the planned London-Manchester/Leeds high-speed line] must be built to deliver the step-change in capacity that Britain’s vital rail arteries need.”