27 August 2010

Final Tracks Laid On Britain's Longest Passenger Line For 100 Years

Network Rail completed track laying on the new 24km stretch of railway between Airdrie and Bathgate today (Friday 27 August), making it the longest domestic passenger railway with new stations to be built in Britain for a century.

A 200-tonne mobile track laying machine ran through the site of the relocated Drumgelloch station over the course of two hours, completing a modern, soon-to-be electrified rail link between West Lothian and North Lanarkshire. By December 2010, the line will carry four trains an hour in each direction, opening up travel options between Scotland’s two biggest cities.

Ron McAulay Network Rail director, Scotland, commented:

“The completion of this brand new stretch of railway has historical significance but its real significance will become apparent over the next couple of decades. In North Lanarkshire and West Lothian, this rail link will rejuvenate the area by encouraging investment and will encourage even more people to travel by train between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

“The completion of track-laying is a major milestone for us and keeps us firmly on track to begin driver training by mid October and to open for passengers by December 2010. We still have a significant amount of work to do; installing signaling and overhead cables as well as completing the three new stations and the relocation of two other stations but we're confident that we will deliver on schedule.”

Stewart Stevenson, minister for transport, infrastructure and climate change said:

"Scotland has the most ambitious climate change legislation anywhere in the world and our climate change delivery plan means persuading motorists to get out of their cars and use more sustainable forms of transport. That's why we are investing £300 million in the Airdrie - Bathgate route to bring considerable benefits for the communities along the route, forming a direct rail link to Glasgow and Edinburgh for towns like Caldercruix, Blackridge and Armadale for the first time in 50 years.

"I am delighted that we have reached this significant milestone - a clear indicator that this work is moving apace towards final delivery. Once complete this new route will offer travellers a real alternative to the car and enable people to make better use of public transport networks."

At 24km (15 miles), the Airdrie-Bathgate is the longest domestic passenger railway to include new stations to be built in Britain since the Ashendon to Aynho line was constructed through Bicester North, Oxfordshire in 1910. In Scotland, it is the longest line to be built since the Ballachulish branch line opened in 1903.

The rail link includes three new stations at Calderdruix, Blackridge and Armadale as well as two relocated station in Drumgelloch and Bathgate. Four trains an hour will operate in each direction running as far west as Helensburgh and Milngavie and as far east as Edinburgh.

The £300m Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link is funded by Transport Scotland.
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