End in sight for Edinburgh to Glasgow rail chaos

Winchburgh tunnel. Picture: Network Rail
Winchburgh tunnel. Picture: Network Rail
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Rail services disrupted for the past month by improvement works will return to normal next week – providing relief to stressed commuters.

Work in the Winchburgh Tunnel that has affected services on the Edinburgh to Glasgow main line between Linlithgow and Haymarket will end on Sunday.

Passengers have for the past six weeks been herded on to rail replacement buses or told to use slower services on other lines, adding up to 30 minutes to journeys.

Rail bosses said that passenger numbers have only dipped slightly, suggesting travellers haven’t taken to the roads en masse.

A spokesman for the ScotRail Alliance, representing rail operator ScotRail and Network Rail – which is carrying out the work in the Winchburgh Tunnel – said only one in ten regular passengers had stopped using trains during the disruption.

However, the full impact on ticket revenues isn’t yet known and compensation will be paid to ScotRail by Network Rail in order to offset any decline in sales.

The spokesman said: “Train and freight companies pay track access charges to use the railway and, when engineering works require lines to close, it is standard practice for operators to be compensated for that reduction of access.

“This process is built into the cost of any project 
undertaken on the railway – from minor routine maintenance through to major enhancement projects.

“The impact of the ongoing Winchburgh closure on overall passenger numbers is still being assessed.

“We have extra staff at Linlithgow and other key stations and on buses to assist customers and check tickets.

“While the work still has over a week to run, initial indications are that the vast majority of customers have valid tickets to travel.”

The first day of disruption saw chaotic scenes at Haymarket and Waverley stations, with replacement buses being caught in traffic and drivers drafted in from as far away as London and Manchester getting lost in Sighthill and Corstorphine.

Some passengers reported delays of more than an hour, while trains from Glasgow on unaffected lines saw bumper crowds.

With the start of the school holidays, however, the impact of disruption has eased as the end of 44 days of works approaches.