Edinburgh to Glasgow rail work months behind schedule

File picture: Ian Rutherford

File picture: Ian Rutherford

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WORK aimed at boosting rail connections to and from the Capital is months behind schedule with costs spiralling, according to a new report.

The analysis of Network Rail’s performance has found electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow is unlikely to be completed by December this year.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said he was “concerned and disappointed” as it emerged electric services would not run until July 2017 – seven months later than scheduled.

He has ordered Transport Scotland officials to carry out a review of the governance of major rail projects.

Mr Yousaf said: “Network Rail has informed Transport Scotland that the Edinburgh-Glasgow line will not be running electric services until July 2017.

“This is seven months later than scheduled and seven months later than they advised ministers two months ago. This will also increase the cost of the project beyond the previous £742 million estimate.

“Network Rail’s cost estimates for a number of other major projects which are at earlier stages of delivery have also increased. Moreover, progress on other projects has also been slower than expected.

“I am not prepared to simply accept the long-term cost implications, nor the revised programmes that Network Rail have set out. I will also be doing everything possible to ensure that Network Rail deliver the full programme in Scotland by March 2019 and without any extra funding from the Scottish Government.”

Mr Yousaf said he expected the Transport Scotland review to be completed by September, with Network Rail officials due to come before Holyrood’s rural economy and connectivity committee to answer questions.

In its annual assessment of Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said it had concerns “regarding the ability of key projects to meet their obligations and regulatory milestones”.

Phil Verster, managing director of Network Rail Scotland and the ScotRail Alliance, said: “Our Network Rail project teams and their suppliers have a strong and proud track record in Scotland of delivering on-time and on-budget. We need look no further than the Borders Railway line to see evidence of that.

“The programme impacts highlighted today will not delay the introduction of our exciting new fleet of faster, longer, greener trains – nor will they impact on our ability to deliver the 200 new services and 20,000 extra seats promised in the Revolution in Rail timetable change. Very importantly, our teams have learnt valuable lessons from the circumstances, decisions and programme impacts over the last months.”

Mr Verster added: “As the ORR indicated today, the costs have risen due to extra compliance requirements, complicated interfaces with other projects and other unforeseen factors such as severe weather impacts.

“Despite this, I am pleased to confirm that we are committed to still deliver the overall railway enhancement programme for Scotland by March 2019, and within the agreed funding limits.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com