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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 21:49 GMT
Capital station to be 'rebuilt'
Edinburgh Waverley
Edinburgh Waverley, where capacity will increase
Edinburgh's Waverley Station will be virtually rebuilt under proposals to improve Scotland's rail network.

The move is contained in the 10-year plan for major improvements to tracks and trains which has been published by the Strategic Rail Authority.

The document sets out the priorities and timescales for changes and major projects on the railway.

In Scotland, the plan includes continuing major works on the east and west coast main lines.

Scotland's Transport Minister, Wendy Alexander, said it was "the start of planning for a railway fit for the 21st century".

Waverley Station, in Edinburgh, will be virtually rebuilt in a 400m scheme and, in the short term, about 140 smaller stations throughout Scotland will benefit, the SRA said.

Over the next five years, improvements for Scotland include:

  • Three new lines - Milngavie to Larkhall; Stirling to Alloa, Edinburgh Crossrail

  • Six new stations and interchange improvements at Partick, Gourock and Markinch

  • Additional capacity on Kilmarnock and Paisley to Glasgow lines

  • Refurbishment of class 318 electric trains and reliability improvements for class 170 diesel trains.

The plan indicates which major schemes, some of which have already started, will be going ahead and when they are expected to be finished.

The upgrade of the east coast line is scheduled for completion by 2010.

But the SRA makes clear that the scope and timing of the upgrade is currently being reviewed in the light of emerging information on costs and market requirements.

Closed section of the West Coast Main Line
The west coast line timing is under review
Improvements on the west coast line between Scotland and London are due to be in place by 2005.

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Trains company will be introducing high-speed tilting trains later this year.

Although the trains will be able to run at 125mph, the full 140mph speed may not be reached as the SRA says it is reviewing the west coast upgrade.

This was likely to lead to "some scaling back" on the original plan.

The government is contributing 33.5bn of the 63.5bn earmarked for the strategy, with the rest due to come from private investors. No new money has been announced in the plan.

Ms Alexander said: "I particularly welcome the combination of short, medium and long-term measures for the next 10 years that will enable the industry to plan effectively.

I seriously wonder whether the executive is really fighting its corner hard enough for rail in Scotland

Ken Sutherland, Railway Development Society
"Passengers will see improvements to their journeys within Scotland.

"Expanding capacity at Waverley Station is vital to delivering better services all over Scotland."

Bill Ure of the Rail Passenger Committee also welcomed the plan, which he said brought together a number of projects in a "coherent form".

However, others have described the proposals as a missed opportunity which contains little for those in the north of the country.

Ken Sutherland of the Railway Development Society said: "I seriously wonder whether the executive is really fighting its corner hard enough for rail in Scotland in terms of capacity and the expectations that people have.

"I think the likes of the Larkhall scheme and reopening the Alloa line are about to go into the Guinness Book of Records as the most re-announced schemes that have not yet happened."

BBC Scotland's Louise Batchelor reports
"Waverley Station will reach capacity next year"
Scotland's Transport Minister Wendy Alexander
"The travelling public just want their trains to run on time"
See also:

14 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Rail masterplan unveiled
12 Jan 02 | Scotland
One-day respite for train passengers
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