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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 March 2007, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Major rail link project approved
Track work - Pic: Network Rail
The new line could be open by the end of 2010
A major project to reopen the railway line between Airdrie and Bathgate has been approved by MSPs.

The 300m scheme will include an upgrade of the links between North Lanarkshire and West Lothian and the construction of two stations by 2010.

The project, which attracted cross-party support aims to draw more businesses to the central belt and create 1,500 jobs.

It is hoped the line, closed for 50 years, will help cut congestion.

The plan, contained in the Airdrie-Bathgate railway and linked improvements bill, was the final piece of legislation to be passed by the current session of parliament.

Transport minister Tavish Scott said it could be worth as much as 716m to the local economy.

Emission 'reduction'

"Through our unprecedented focus on rail renewal, we can now encourage more people out of their cars and onto public transport," he said.

"That means less congestion and less damage to our environment."

The minister added: "Our long-term objective across Scotland is to reduce journey times, improve connections, and reduce emissions."

The line will see four passenger services an hour between Glasgow and Edinburgh and could be running by December 2010.

As part of the project, stations would be built at Caldercruix and Armadale, and there would be relocated stations at Drumgelloch and Bathgate.

Operator Network Rail, which was behind the bill, had been criticised over a perceived inability to engage fully with local people about the scheme although these concerns had now been addressed, MSPs were told.

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