Key rail link hits the buffers after £1bn budget cut

There has been a cut in the budget for the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail upgrade
There has been a cut in the budget for the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail upgrade
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A CUT in the budget for the upgrade of the Edinburgh-Glasgow rail line means passengers travelling from the west will no longer be able to use the planned interchange to catch a tram to the airport.

The original £1 billion electrification project promised six trains an hour on the main line between the two cities, a journey time down to just 35 minutes and easy access to the airport by switching to the tram at the new Edinburgh Gateway station at Gogar.

But the revised scheme unveiled by Transport Minister Keith Brown yesterday has slashed £350 million from the investment, which means there will only be four trains an hour, the journey time will be 40 minutes and trains from the west can no longer use the Gateway station.

A crucial piece of extra track – known as the “Dalmeny chord” – to allow trains from Glasgow to call at the Gateway station will no longer be built.

City transport convener Lesley Hinds said today there had been no consultation with the council on the move.

She said: “We welcome the fact the project is going ahead, but I’m disappointed the proposal has been curtailed. There was an opportunity here to link train to tram to airport and have that integration.

“If we can encourage people from Glasgow to use Edinburgh Airport, that benefits the airport and the Edinburgh economy.

“I hope the minister will reconsider this and I would urge Transport Scotland to look for resources to ensure the original plan is implemented.”

Airport chief executive Jim O’Sullivan welcomed the investment in the Edinburgh Gateway.

Paul Tetlaw, chairman of campaign group TRANSform Scotland, said: “By taking out the Dalmeny chord, you can only run four trains an hour and people coming from Glasgow can no longer travel on the fast train and get off at the new interchange for the airport.

“They will have to get a slow service on the Airdrie-Bathgate line and get off at Edinburgh Park, or come on the main line to Haymarket and get the tram out to the airport from there.”

Commuters coming into Edinburgh on the Dunblane/Alloa line will also be disappointed. Plans to electrify the line have also been dropped.

Mr Brown said there would be longer trains, improved reliability and wifi on all trains on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line by the end of next year.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “This was a project which had the potential to be transformational in terms of its impact on connectivity across central Scotland.

“Running a railway cannot be done on the cheap. This was an ambitious project that could have delivered much in terms of economic benefits by bringing two of Scotland’s great cities together. The Scottish Government’s announcement is a start but we are looking for a cast iron guarantee that the rest of this project will be delivered to a defined timetable.”

The Scottish Government said further elements of project could be delivered in future.