Railway chief targets Edinburgh-Glasgow in 39 minutes

The new Hitachi trains have yet to come into service. Photograph: SNS
The new Hitachi trains have yet to come into service. Photograph: SNS
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The head of Scotland’s railway wants to cut Edinburgh-Glasgow journeys to just 39 minutes as a “game- changer” to attract more passengers.

New electric trains are due to reduce the fastest trips from 52 minutes to 42 minutes in December, but Alex Hynes is looking at ways of making them even quicker.

The news came as ScotRail sources told Scotland on Sunday the delayed fleet was not now due to enter service until May – a further two months later than expected.

Hynes, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance with track owner Network Rail, is to examine possible track improvements and raising speed limits.

Ministers have said in the past the line is so important that cutting a minute off the journey would boost the economy by £60 million.

Hynes said: “I always aspire to do better for customers and push boundaries.

“Getting to 39 minutes would be a game-changer in terms of public perception – it would change the whole mindset of commuting between the two cities.”

It is not known when the time saving could be achieved, but Hynes is keen to use a sub-40 minute journey to help market the service.

Railway writer Phil Haigh, who revealed the plan in RAIL magazine, said the trains’ powerful acceleration would help achieve it.

He said: “My impression is they have got a bit more oomph than Hynes might have originally thought.”

Transport Scotland, which cut back original plans for 37- minute journeys in 2012 to save money, backed the move.

Its spokesman said: “The Scottish Government welcomes the ambition of the ScotRail Alliance to further improve journey times between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Faster trains attract more passengers and improve resource efficiency.”

The Hitachi trains were due to have been introduced five months ago but have been delayed by production problems and faults during electrification of the line.

Now drivers say they are unable to see signals clearly through the windscreen, which is expected to contribute to a further delay until at least mid-May.

ScotRail will be forced to cut carriages on some rush-hour trains until then.