For commuters travelling between Scotlands two main cities, this summer is set to be a season of great discontent!
As a result of the Edinburgh-Glasgow line summer electrification works the Winchburgh Tunnel is due to close for 44 days causing huge disruption to all rail traffic using the line.
Passengers are being advised that from Saturday, June 13 until Monday, July 27 Winchburgh tunnel on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line will close while Network Rail carries out work to prepare the structure for electrification.
The six-week long closure of the tunnel, near Linlithgow, is part of the Scottish Government-funded, £742m Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) which will electrify the Edinburgh-Glasgow Queen Street line by 2016 – allowing the introduction of faster, greener and quieter electric services on the route.
As part of the 44-day project, engineers will be lowering and relaying the two lines of track through the 330m tunnel and installing equipment to carry the overhead power lines needed for the electrification of the railway.
The tunnel will need to remain closed while engineers work 24-hours a day
to deliver the work as quickly and safely as possible.
Network Rail, Transport Scotland and ScotRail say they are working closely to ensure that a temporary timetable is in place during the work to minimise disruption and provide alternative travel options for passengers.
The travel operators have launched a campaign to alert commuters to the anticipated delays and diversions at: www.scotrail.co.uk/winchburgh and passengers are being urged to allow more time for their journey, to plan ahead and to check before travelling.
As well as the dedicated webpage, passengers are also being advised of the changes via leaflets and posters at stations along the line of route, through radio advertising and social media.
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. However, ScotRail and Network Rail are working closely to minimise disruption and ensure that passengers can still travel between the two cities. This includes launching this major information drive three months ahead of the works to keep passengers informed.”
David Dickson, Network Rail’s route managing director for Scotland added: “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. The Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme is a unique chance to modernise and enhance our rail network in Scotland.”
How will your journey be affected by the electrification/road works?
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
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.
The Winchburgh tunnel works will also coincide with the ongoing £500m M8 M73 M74 Motorway Improvements Project, which aims to tackle congestion problems on the A8/M8, M73, M74 and at key junctions including Raith (M74) and Shawhead (A725/A8).
Graeme Reid, Transport Scotland Project Sponsor for M8/73/74 Improvements
Programme, said: “EGIP forms part of the biggest ever package of improvements to our transport networks. The M8 traffic management measures announced last week and the Winchburgh
Tunnel closure have both been scheduled to take place during the summer months when transport networks are traditionally quieter and also less
likely to be further impacted by weather events.
“Transport Scotland has undertaken a detailed review with operators on our roads and railways to ensure minimal disruption. While people will be able to complete their journeys, they should obviously factor disruptions caused by these transport schemes into their travel plans.”