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Work Starts On Glasgow-Edinburgh Rail Link Electrification

3 February 2015

Work is underway on a major rail electrification project that will improve services on one of the busiest lines in Scotland.

Costain and its partners Alstom Transport and Babcock Rail will install overhead line (OHL) equipment – masts and catenary wires – between Glasgow’s Queen Street Station to just outside Newbridge, on the western edge of Edinburgh city centre. The project is being undertaken in alliance with Network Rail and Morgan Sindall.

The route carries passengers between the two cities every 15 minutes, as well as local services to intermediate stations and those that split off from the main line to head for Stirling and more northerly destinations.

This project is a key element of the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP), a strategic transport priority for the Scottish Government being delivered by Network Rail. It is a key phase in the electrification of the Scottish rail network and involves an investment by the Scottish Government of £742m.

“We started piling for the foundations for the masts at the beginning of November,” said Bob Halsey, Project Director for Costain on the project and Head of Overhead Line Equipment Delivery within the EGIP Alliance.

The £245 million contract is designed both to increase passenger capacity on the line and to reduce journey times.

More passengers will be able to be carried by replacing the existing fleet by longer, eight-car trains. This will require platforms to be lengthened at four intermediate stations on the route – Croy, Falkirk High, Polmont and Linlithgow.

Journey times, currently around 50 minutes, will be shortened to roughly 42 minutes once the existing diesels have been phased out and the new electric fleet fully introduced.

The line is so busy that the teams working to modernise the route will only be able to swing into action once trains stop running for the night. “It’s all night work,” said Bob. “This could be as much as eight hours and weekends, or as low as four hours during the week.”

Two other major challenges are to fit the electric power supply into two lengthy tunnels, one at Winchburgh in West Lothian, the other just yards from the ends of the platforms at Glasgow Queen Street. The latter tunnel is just under a mile long.

Costain is responsible for the OHL and power distribution work, while Morgan Sindall is mainly undertaking route clearance work (such as bridge works) and the platform extensions. Network Rail is embedded within the alliance, as well as being the client. In its alliance role it will be providing a variety of services and facilities to allow the project to progress.

The electrification part of the contract is due to be completed by the end of 2016.




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