Highland main line upgrade work complete

Network Rail has completed a £57 million programme of upgrades on the Highland main line between Perth and Inverness.

Completion of the Scottish Government-funded investment in the line linking Inverness to Glasgow and Edinburgh, will help deliver an hourly service, with average journey times reduced by around 10 mins and enable potential improvements to the times of the first and last trains between Inverness and the Central Belt.

The project, which has been ongoing since summer 2018, primarily focussed on Aviemore and Pitlochry and delivered work to remodel and extend tracks and upgrade signalling which will enable trains to move more efficiently along the rail corridor.

Along with the introduction of new trains, it will improve connectivity, support more services and improve journey times to create a more attractive public transport choice for all of the communities along the line.

From Friday night until the early hours of Tuesday morning, engineers worked around-the-clock to complete new infrastructure between Perth and Inverness – including laying track at Aviemore, testing newly-installed signalling systems at Aviemore and Pitlochry and introducing longer platforms at Pitlochry into service.

The project has also helped to conserve the history of the stations; working with the community to restore some of Pitlochry station’s decorative features including the Victorian water fountain and benches.

Matthew Spence, route delivery director for Network Rail, said: “We are delighted to have completed work on this vital rail corridor on time and on budget. This investment will help to deliver additional capacity and journey time improvements to support both passenger and freight growth.

“We appreciate that this work has at times been inconvenient for those travelling on the route as unavoidably, we had to close the line for periods to deliver these enhancements.  However, we hope that the longer-term benefits that the work enables; more services with journey time improvements, will prove to be worthwhile.”

Bill Reeve, Transport Scotland’s Director of Rail, said: “Passengers will welcome the news this infrastructure work has been completed on time and well within budget.  The original budget for this programme was £117 million and current anticipated costs are less than half that at £57 million. Network Rail is to be congratulated for this efficiency.

“This will allow the roll out of improved ScotRail Inter7city services as the re-engineered High Speed Trains are delivered. We continue to press the rolling stock overhauler WabTec to deliver these much-needed trains, so the value of this investment can be realised at the earliest possible opportunity and for many years to come.”