Published: 18th June 2015
Passengers travelling between Edinburgh and Glasgow are advised to allow more time for their journeys during major engineering works until the end of July.
This is because Winchburgh Tunnel, between Linlithgow and Edinburgh on the main line linking Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street, is closed until 27 July. Network Rail is working to create electrification clearance through the tunnel for EGIP, the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Project.
The 44-day closure is scheduled to end in good time for the peak travel month of August, when Edinburgh gains many holiday visitors attending Festival and Fringe events.
Meantime, buses are linking with trains at Linlithgow. Some trains are being diverted but otherwise passengers are advised to use an alternative rail route.
There are four trains an hour in each direction between Edinburgh Waverley and the “low level” platforms at Glasgow Queen Street on an alternative route through Bathgate and Airdrie. And there are trains on two routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow Central – but intending passengers should take care to join a fast or semi-fast train rather than one of the “slow” ones.
Network Rail, Transport Scotland and ScotRail have created a temporary timetable during the work to minimise disruption and provide alternative travel options for passengers.
The timetable has been carefully designed to balance the needs of those who travel end-to-end on two routes: Glasgow-Falkirk High-Edinburgh, and Dunblane/Stirling-Edinburgh; while also catering for people who use intermediate stations.
Edinburgh-Glasgow trains via Falkirk High will start/terminate at Linlithgow between June 13 and July 26, with a mix of trains and replacement buses operating to Haymarket and Edinburgh Waverley.
People who travel all the way between Glasgow and Edinburgh have three alternative routes – via Bathgate from Queen St Low Level, and via Shotts or Motherwell from Glasgow Central.
Services from Stirling/Dunblane-Edinburgh will be diverted and take longer, but will run direct. As a result of this diversion, Edinburgh Park will be served by buses from the Glasgow/Dunblane direction.
Engineers will be lowering then relaying the two tracks through the 330m tunnel to allow supporting equipment for the overhead power lines needed for electric trains to operate. This work will be carried out 24-hours a day to deliver the work as quickly and safely as possible.
The EGIP scheme will later introduce electric trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow as part of a major investment by the devolved Scottish Government through its agency, Transport Scotland. Critics have complained that the scheme was “de-scoped” to control costs and that this included postponement of construction of the proposed direct diversionary “Almond Cord” route between Linlithgow and Edinburgh which could have taken trains past Edinburgh Airport during the tunnel’s closure.
The railway, including Winchburgh Tunnel, opened in 1842 on its present alignment through Linlithgow and Falkirk High as Scotland’s first inter-city rail line.
Transport Minister Derek MacKay said: “The Winchburgh tunnel works are a major milestone in the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme and will take us one step closer to the electrification of our busiest route. Once complete, EGIP will deliver a 20% reduction in journey times and 30% more capacity within four years, as well as more comfortable, efficient and reliable trains. “The closure at Winchburgh will mean a change from usual operations on the route.
Steve Montgomery, ScotRail’s managing director, 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. “Passengers from Stirling/Dunblane have no alternative rail option so maintaining these connections was a really important consideration.”