Network Rail has completed the £160m electrification of the Shotts Line on time and on budget.
Delivery of the Scottish Government-funded project to upgrade the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow creates a fifth electrified route between Scotland’s largest cities.
A central part of the Scottish Government’s rail strategy, electrification has the potential to transform the passenger experience on the line, reducing journey times and adding capacity, on comfortable, efficient and more reliable electric trains.
The investment was made to add resilience and capacity into the network to cater for projected growth in passenger numbers from towns such as Livingston and West Calder into Edinburgh in the east and from Cleland and Shotts into Glasgow in the west.
The project team worked more than 1 million hours to install the 1,400 masts that have been erected to carry the 223 kilometres of overhead wires needed to electrify the line.
Major modifications have also been carried out at 17 bridges – including the removal of some and demolition-reconstruction of others – along the route to create enough space for the new overhead lines.
As well as improving the railway, these reconstructed bridges have significantly enhanced the roads infrastructure across North Lanarkshire and West Lothian.
The project also upgraded or extended platforms at nine stations, delivered step free access at West Calder and completely redeveloped two stations; Breich and Livingston South.
Delivered on programme, the project enables:
The introduction of modern, electric trains from May
More seats on services between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh
A reduction in noise and better air quality for those who live and work near the railway.
Michael Matheson Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity said: “Today’s announcement is further proof of Scottish Government commitment to Scotland’s Railways. This £160m investment in the Shotts line will be genuinely transformational, enabling new, longer and faster trains and providing a better travelling experience for passengers all along this route for many years to come.
“As well as improving connectivity between North Lanarkshire and West Lothian, the investment will both stimulate growth in passenger numbers and make it easier for people from these communities to connect to employment, education and leisure opportunities in our largest cities.”
Iain McFarlane, Network Rail route delivery director for infrastructure projects, said: “We are delighted to have completed this project on time and on budget as it will help to deliver additional capacity and journey time improvements to support both passenger and freight growth.
“Electrification is transforming travel across the central belt of Scotland – increasing the number of seats, reducing journey times and cutting emissions by introducing more modern and greener trains to the route.
“We appreciate that this work has at times been inconvenient for those travelling on the route However, we are confident that the longer-term benefits that the work enables will prove to be worthwhile.”