Work on the fifth electrified route between Scotland’s largest cities has been celebrated after being completed on time and on budget.
Not only will it mean a reduction in noise and better air quality for those who live and work near the railway, the upgraded line will allow for the introduction of modern, electric trains from May and more seats on services between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh.
Funded by the Scottish Government, 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.
More than one million hours has been spent on improving the vital link with 1,400 masts 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.
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.
Michael Matheson cabinet secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity said the £160m investment in the Shotts line will be “genuinely transformational”.
“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,” Matheson added.
Iain McFarlane, Network Rail route delivery director for infrastructure projects, added: “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.”