Glasgow Central station's short stay car park is to be closed to allow two platforms to be built for use by the new Glasgow Airport Rail Link.
Private vehicle access to the station will end on 27 September to allow new platforms, to be numbered 12 and 13, to be created in the area of the existing short-stay car park between platforms 11 and 14. The existing platform 12, situated away from the main station concourse and facilities, will be demolished to clear space for track to the new platforms.
GARL project work required
Branch line and airport station - new dedicated rail corridor and station facility
Three track main line - enhancements to the existing main line between Shields Junction (West of Glasgow Central) and Arkleston Junction (East of Paisley Gilmour St)
Wallneuk Junction improvements - including changes at Arkleston Junction
Glasgow Central - closure of the existing platform 12 and creation of two new platforms, 12 and 13, within the main station in the biggest change to the station's layout since the completion of its extension in 1906
Paisley Corridor Renewal (PCR) work being undertaken by Network Rail
Extension of the loop at Elderslie to accommodate longer freight trains
Network Rail says the work will result in the biggest improvements for passenger services at the station in more than a century. Ron McAulay, director Scotland, said: "The new platforms will significantly enhance capacity at Central, not only for the new airport rail link, but for the growing number of services using what is Scotland's busiest station each day."
Nadia Savage, Glasgow Airport Rail Link project director for Transport Scotland, added: "Across the various areas of necessary work, we continue to make progress on this vital project for the economy of the west of Scotland and beyond and I am pleased to see another important piece in the jigsaw getting underway.
"As well as the link to the airport, this work is paving the way for significant improvements to Ayrshire and Inverclyde services in advance of the new fleet of 38 eco-friendly electric trains being launched to the west of Scotland by the Scottish Government in September 2010."
Set down and pick up facilities for passengers will remain available in Union Street, adjacent to the step-free Gordon Street station entrance and also the stepped Union Street entrance. Additional options for set down and pick up facilities in the vicinity of the station are also being examined and commercial car parking facilities in Oswald St and other locations adjacent to Central are available.
The estimated outturn cost range for the combined GARL-Paisley Corridor Resignalling project is £365.5m to £395m excluding VAT. Overall the new route will be nine miles (15 km) long and will include a 2 km branch line which will be built to the east of Paisley St James station. The link will cross St James Playing Fields on a viaduct, cross the M8 via a new bridge and loop round to a new purpose-built station at Glasgow Airport. Main line work involves the upgrade of 5.4 miles (9 km) of existing track between Shields Junction and Paisley Gilmour Street station.
Major engineering work is being carried out on a troubled new railway line after inspections revealed that a fifth of the route does not meet requirements laid out by Network Rail prior to its completion just last year.
The work on the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine line has meant further night-time disturbance for residents who have had to suffer unexpected 24-hour running of freight trains after the line re-opened to allow coal to be transported to Longannet power station in Fife.
Transport Scotland, the government agency that funded and ultimately took over responsibility for constructing the line, initially claimed that a programme of work initiated in June constituted routine maintenance, a view repeated by Clackmannanshire Council, which originally promoted the project.
However, after inquiries by The Herald, Peter Binks, project director for strategic projects at Transport Scotland's rail division, confirmed that major engineering had been required to remedy variations in the construction of the route that did not conform to original design specification.
He said 20% of the route did not meet track height specifications originally agreed by Network Rail, the not-for-profit company that owns the UK rail infrastructure, when it was handed over upon completion in May 2008.
But despite disagreements with the contractor, First Nuttall JV, Mr Binks insisted that none of the expense for the remedial work was being shouldered by the taxpayer. "The point of the contract we drew up is that the risk is transferred to the contractor," he said. "The line was not built according to the specification so it clearly hasn't complied with the contract."
The bulk of the engineering work has been scheduled to take place over 12 consecutive weekends between 11pm and 10am and began on June 20. A letter from Network Rail sent last month to residents who live by the track advised them that it would involve heavy plant machinery as well as temporary lighting.
It is the latest difficulty to befall the £85m SAK route, which was completed two-and-a-half years late and at more than twice the original estimated cost. The Herald revealed last month that residents may be entitled to millions of pounds' compensation for loss of property value due to the noise and vibration caused by the night-time running of freight trains.
It is understood that First Nuttall, a joint venture between First Engineering and Edmund Nuttall, tried to seek retrospective approval from Network Rail for the aspects of the line that did not meet the agreed specification but that this was turned down.
Network Rail claimed the modified design would have caused long-term problems that would have added to the cost of maintaining it. A spokesman said: "The line was brought into the network under a temporary gauging certificate due to reduced clearances on several bridges. There were also issues regarding the design of the track on the railway which needed to be addressed to ensure it met industry standards."
Richard Simpson, the MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: "They have built a railway of which 8000m is not up to specification. You have to ask, how many more things are we going to find out about this railway? What is the level of competence of the organisation responsible for ensuring oversight of this?
"Surely Transport Scotland should have had supervisors inspecting the railway to ensure they were getting the project they paid for?"
Eddie Carrick, the councillor responsible for the SAK project at Clackmannanshire Council, issued a statement to The Herald in June claiming the work was "scheduled routine maintenance". He said yesterday: "During the construction of the SAK line the contractor needed to amend the original approved design due to actual ground conditions on site.
"The types of changes made can occur in any construction project where it is more practical and cost-effective to vary from the original design in order to ensure the most appropriate construction techniques are applied.
"Network Rail have requested that some of the changes are modified before they will be in a position to issue a final approval certificate. These modifications have no safety implications."
Scottish railway company Scotrail has signed a contract with French IT company Atos Origin to provide its new mobile ticketing solution, Avantix Mobile.
The upgraded system will have additional features such as faster ticket printing, Wi-Fi or GPRS capability and the integration of a 2D barcode scanner for validation of self-print and mobile tickets.
The railway's existing system, which is also from Atos, will be replaced and upgraded under the new contract.
In addition, a few more enhancements are planned such as a Bluetooth-enabled pad for chip-and-PIN transactions with a reader for ITSO-based smartcards, a built-in printer and a barcode validation database.
The system may enter service by mid-2009 across the Scotrail network.
Network Rail has unveiled plans for the new rail and tram interchange at Gogar in west Edinburgh which has been developed following the cancellation of the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link project.
The Gogar Rail Interchange project, funded by Transport Scotland, involves building a new railway station on the Edinburgh to Fife railway lines in the Gogar area. This would be located adjacent to a new stop on the Edinburgh Tram network for onward passenger transfer to Edinburgh Airport.
A raised walkway will link the railway station and tram terminal while a subway would connect the railway station with the Gyle Shopping Centre on the south side of the A8. The station will be on two levels; the lower level area will have a lift, staircase and escalators to take passengers up to the ticket office and concourse at first floor level.
The Gogar scheme has been developed as a lower cost alternative to the £600m Edinburgh Airport Rail Link project, which was formerly axed by the newly elected SNP government in September 2007 (Transport Briefing 27/09/07). EARL would have provided a station within the airport through the construction of a rail tunnel under the airport's runway. Instead, Gogar station will be built on the existing Edinburgh-Fife line and passengers will need to pick up a tram connection to reach the airport.
Network Rail is under pressure to finalise plans for the interchange to avoid further delays to construction of the Edinburgh tram line which will have its western terminus at the airport and a tram depot in Gogar.
Scottish Government transport minister Stewart Stevenson said: "This is a hugely important project for the east of Scotland and I'm delighted that the proposals for the station are available for all to see. The new station at Gogar will improve public transport access both to Edinburgh Airport and West Edinburgh and should encourage more drivers out of their cars and on to public transport, easing congestion in the city."
Ron McAulay, Network Rail director, Scotland, added: "Our aspiration is to have the facility completed by late 2011 and the planning application for the station interchange will be submitted in October. However, we're keen to incorporate the thoughts and considerations of the general public prior to submission."
The new interchange is part of a £1bn programme of investment in the railway between Edinburgh and Glasgow which is being funded by Transport Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government. The Edinburgh Glasgow Improvements Programme will upgrade rail infrastructure linking Scotland's two main cities and their surrounding towns, increasing service levels and reducing journey times.
Plans for the Gogar interchange will be exhibited to the public for the first time on Wednesday (29 July), when Network Rail hosts the first of two public exhibitions at the Gyle shopping centre.
The Airdrie-Bathgate passenger rail link in Scotland will be reopened in 2010 after being closed for 50 years.
Work is underway on the £300m (according to 2006 figures) reinstatement project for the line.
The project has completed its initial stages, which includes the removal of bridges and vegetation, construction of new bridges and roads, and drainage work, as well as the installation of 1,000 foundations and 600 overhead lines.
Work is now in progress on Armadale station, the first new station along the rail link.
The rail lines between Bathgate and Edinburgh and between Airdrie and Drumgelloch are also being revamped as part of the project.
The project is being implemented by Network Rail and funded by Transport Scotland.
New row threatens trams project
Edinburgh City Council is to take legal action against the consortium contracted to build the city's £545m tram system.
A report prepared for the local authority said the contractor was demanding more money, in a repeat of a row that erupted earlier this year.
It also warned of a potential cash shortfall in the project, which is already late and over budget.
The Conservatives accused the council of mishandling the project.
City council transport convenor Gordon Mackenzie said it was trying to get the best value for money for the public.
He said: "We have lodged formal dispute papers with the consortium. We are unhappy with the progress of the tram project. We need to contain the costs. We need to improve the programme delivery.
"Our position is clear. We have a contract and we intend to hold the contractor to that contract."
An earlier dispute in February led to a three-week delay in starting work to lay tram tracks in Princes Street.
The contractor claimed delays in diverting utilities meant it had incurred extra costs and would need more money, although the row was eventually resolved.
Edinburgh Conservative MSP David McLetchie said the costs of the tram system were in danger of spiralling out of control.
He said: "This project has been mishandled right from the start by this Lib Dem/SNP council.
"Reassurances must be given that work will continue and no more taxpayers' money will be spent on the trams project. The trams saga is bearing all the hallmarks of the Scottish Parliament building fiasco. Over budget and over time."
Edinburgh's Liberal Democrat City Council leader, Jenny Dawe, acknowledged that the project was unlikely to be completed on time and within the £545m budget.
She added: "We have a particular situation at the moment where, having tried through informal means to sort out the differences between one part of the consortium and TIE, we've now reached the stage where we're having to go to a formal contract resolution procedure and that is likely to take some time to sort out.
"In any sort of dispute like this you go through every possible informal means of sorting everything out.
"There is a way laid out that we've followed and it would've been totally premature and unhelpful if we had gone to formal procedure before we had exhausted every other means."
£1bn boost for high-speed trains
Network Rail is to fund a £1bn scheme to electrify the track between Edinburgh and Glasgow, cutting journey times to as little as 35 minutes.
The company is to borrow the sum against the value of its network, including stations and land.
The arrangement means the Scottish Government will not have to increase its borrowing to realise the project.
The project, which has a completion date of 2016, will boost services between the cities to 13 an hour.
The cash will also create a new rail and tram interchange station at Gogar.
The Dunblane line, which sees services travel through Stirling, is also to be electrified along with the Cumbernauld line as part of the programme.
Network Rail will use the investment to upgrade the network's existing track and signals infrastructure as well as major bridge and tunnelling strengthening works.
The scheme includes boosting the frequency of services between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley to 13 an hour and adding new services on the Shotts and Carstairs lines.
Those behind the scheme said it could deliver significant carbon benefit in comparison to existing diesel services, while every minute shaved off journey times is thought to generate up to £60m in benefits to the economy.
A Network Rail spokesman said: "Transport Scotland has asked Network Rail to use our Regulatory Asset Base to facilitate the funding of the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme.
"This project has wide-ranging benefits for communities across the central belt of Scotland and we look forward to playing our role in delivering this ambitious programme."
Scotland goes electric
British infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR) has reportedly agreed to fund the electrification of lines linking Scotland's two largest cities. NR will borrow 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) against the value of its own assets to cover the cost of electrifying the lines from Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk and Cumbernauld, as well as diversionary routes and the lines to Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa, it was reported. An interchange will also be built with the Edinburgh light rail system to the west of the city at Gogar. The project will be completed in 2016.
Scots trains hit 10-year high for punctuality
Sep 7 2009
Trains are more reliable than they have been in a decade, according to industry figures released today.
Train operator ScotRail and infrastructure manager Network Rail said punctuality reached 94.8% in the 28 days to August 22.
The improvement comes despite 10% more trains running than in 1999, they said.
Steve Montgomery, ScotRail's managing director, said: "This was an excellent month, with strong punctuality performance seen across the network.
"We will continue to strive for ongoing improvements."
The previous best monthly high since ScotRail took over the franchise in late 2004 was 94.2% in April last year.
The results also showed that punctuality across the Scottish rail network passed 90% for the sixth month in a row.
David Simpson, Network Rail route director in Scotland, said: "This level of performance is further evidence that, with ongoing investment and attention to detail, the overall standards on Scotland's rail network are improving year on year.
"With improved performance, however, comes greater expectations and we will work with ScotRail to meet those expectations."
Over the four weeks to August 22, punctuality reached 97.9% on express services including the main Glasgow-Edinburgh line and trains from both cities to and from Aberdeen and Inverness.
The figure reached 97% on Highland trains and punctuality on other services - South West, East, Central and Strathclyde - ranged from 95.5% to 96.2%.
City's first tram stop unveiled.. in Croydon
Published Date: 08 September 2009
By CHRIS MARSHALL
THE first set of trams for Edinburgh's £545 million project are set to be delivered within months – to Croydon.
The vehicles were due to be housed in the new Gogar depot, which was originally set to be finished at the end of this year.
But work there has fallen badly behind and the Evening News can reveal that tram bosses are discussing sending the first four trams, currently being built in Spain, to the London borough instead.
Tram firm TIE insists the move is merely an opportunity to test the trams on a working network, but critics believe it is in fact because they have nowhere else to go.
Earlier this year TIE was forced to admit that work at Gogar was nine months behind schedule, although there are claims that work on the depot is actually running up to two years late.
John Carson, a former director of maintenance for Network Rail and long-standing opponent of the trams, said: "The depot is at least 18 months late, there's absolutely no doubt about that. They've nowhere to put them in Edinburgh, so Croydon is as good a place to hide them as anywhere else."
Shirley-Anne Somerville, an SNP MSP for the Lothians and an outspoken tram critic, said: "TIE have never even suggested that the trams would have to be tested out before being brought to Edinburgh.
"It's ironic that the only thing being delivered on time here are the tram themselves, with nowhere to store them and no track to run them on."
The final business case for the tram project, which was published in December 2007, scheduled the completion of the Gogar depot for the end of this year. However, tram bosses now say that timeline is out of date.
The first set of trams is expected to arrive in the UK in spring 2010, and discussions with Transport for London (TfL) are understood to have begun. A TfL spokesman said: "We offered our assistance to Edinburgh and are currently awaiting details of how they want us to help."
Alastair Richards, managing director of Edinburgh Trams, said: "We are currently exploring the possibility of testing a number of Edinburgh's trams on Croydon's network. It provides us with an excellent opportunity to get some miles under the belt and test the trams in a real environment.
"Coupled with the existing testing regime on test tracks and on new track in Edinburgh, this provides the Edinburgh tram with the best of both worlds and ensures that the vehicles will be the best that they can be when the scheme opens."
TIE chiefs have confirmed that they will take delivery of all 27 trams for lines 1a and 1b, despite the second route being dropped. The extra vehicles will ensure more regular services, they said.
Mega £25bn transport hub for Scotland proposed
9 September, 2009
By Mark Hansford
A fully integrated road, rail and air hub called Grand Central should be established in Scotland to help boost economic growth, a leading think tank has recommended.
Reform Scotland says the hub around Edinburgh Airport should be the centrepiece of a £25bn revolution in transport policy.
High-speed rail links to Grand Central would make journey times from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling 20 minutes or less while travel time from Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness would also be radically reduced.
The hub would serve as a terminus to any London-Scotland high speed rail line, greatly improving access to key markets in other parts of the UK. Reform Scotland puts the cost of high speed rail links between Grand Central and the country’s major cities at around £25bn.
The hub, coupled with major improvements to Scotland’s trunk roads system, would give the country one of the best transport networks in the world at a cost roughly equivalent to staging two London Olympics, the think tank said.
“What we are proposing is an integrated transport system for the next generation,” said Reform Scotland chairman Ben Thomson. “Of course the costs are high and look particularly daunting at this point in the economic cycle. However, the overall plan can be broken down into separate projects with the creation of the hub and the high speed link between the hub with Edinburgh and Glasgow being only some £3bn.
“By the time we start construction, the economy should hopefully be more buoyant, so now is a good time to be looking at such a plan,” he said.
The proposals are detailed in the independent think tank’s latest report, Power to Connect, which sets out a vision of a co-ordinated, modern and highly efficient travel network which Scotland has lacked through a persistent piecemeal approach to transport.
The report also calls for further investigation into how a Scotland-wide road pricing scheme might be implemented. In its eighth major report since its launch in March last year, Reform Scotland says that transport policy-makers need to ‘aim high’ - particularly as the country strives to move out of recession.
“A proper long term integrated transport strategy is vital if Scotland’s economy is going to compete with the best in the world,” said Thompson. “At present, transport strategy is about prioritising a series of local projects, the result of which will give Scotland a disjointed system in future.
“The sort of vision proposed in this paper is where the Scottish Government can make a difference to create an integrated system. In a perfect world, we would set up the new transport hub equi-distant between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. Glasgow Airport would be strategically unsuitable because it is to the west of the city, therefore on the wrong side for easy access to the rest of the country.
“However, there is already an airport at Ingliston with the potential for growth and development and if we can ensure that journey time between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling is no more than 20 minutes then Grand Central would, in effect, become a local as well as a national transport hub.”
The proposal builds on Reform Scotland’s first report Powers for Growth which set out broad policy changes for a more vibrant economy.
In its research, the think tank found that, although the huge investment in Scotland’s transport system over recent years had led to improvements, the main problems centred on the quality of roads and traffic congestion in a country where the motorway system ends north-bound at Perth. Reducing congestion and improving journey times between cities was the top priority.
“The importance of cities and city regions to economic growth has been recognised by the Scottish Government and its agencies because by concentrating economic activities they enable greater economic specialisation and integration which promotes greater productivity,” the report states. “Reducing the journey times between key cities in Scotland would increase the scale of city regions and bring companies, their suppliers and their potential employees closer together. This increases the potential for economic growth which is why a number of other countries have made significant strategic investments in high speed links which have brought tangible economic benefits.”
The report says that evidence from other countries, such as Norway and Singapore, is that road pricing schemes can lead to better management of demand for road space, reducing congestion on roads and contributing to a more effective overall transport system. It says the technology for road-pricing systems has progressed enormously, but to be successful, such schemes must be viewed as a better way of paying for the use of roads rather than a method of increasing taxes on motorists.
To bring this about in Scotland, it would be necessary for the Scottish Parliament to have greater tax-raising powers as proposed in Reform Scotland’s earlier report, Fiscal Powers.
"Edinburgh tram resurfacing job targets hearts and minds
10 September 2009
By Mark Hansford
Edinburgh's troubled tram project has reached a significant milestone with the start of work to resurface the city's main shopping thoroughfare.
Contracting consortium Bilfinger Berger/Siemens/CAF has started to relay a section of Princes Street between Frederick Street and Castle Street so that it can be used as a viewing area for the end of festival fireworks display.
This section has been completed to programme and is the first area of Princes Street where the road surface has begun to be reinstated.
The move is a bid to win some positive publicity for the £500M project, which is widely understood to be running late and over budget after enabling works overran.
Work started in February and the tram was originally expected to open in 2011.
Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (Tie), the arms-length delivery mechanism for Edinburgh City Council, has launched formal contractual dispute resolution proceedings against the Bilfinger/Siemens/CAF consortium through tram client Edinburgh Trams.
Last month Edinburgh City Council's political parties gave their unanimous support for Tie's decision to seek a resolution to its dispute.
In a statement the council said: "While recognising there are divisions on the principle of trams, Council is united in expressing its ongoing determination and full support for Tie's efforts to continue to protect the public purse from the effect of undue programme delay and any unwarranted financial claims.
"Council fully acknowledges that Tie has put extensive efforts into resolving issues at dispute with the contractor."
"Laying of tram tracks in Leith facing delay until new year
Published Date: 14 September 2009
By CHRIS MARSHALL
WORK to lay tram tracks in Leith could now be delayed until the new year – 12 months later than originally planned.
The track-laying operation is one of the areas of the £545 million project being held up by the ongoing dispute with German contractor Bilfinger Berger, with local traders today raising fears that the work schedule looks set to slip further.
Small business owners met with officials from tram firm TIE earlier this week and now believe laying the tracks may not start until January at the earliest.
The next stage of the project had been expected to begin in Leith in January this year, but has been continually put back due to delays in moving utility cables underneath the streets.
With that part of the work expected to be completed in the coming weeks, the dispute with Bilfinger Berger is now holding up the track-laying work.
Earlier this year, the city's then transport convener, Councillor Phil Wheeler, said he expected track-laying work to begin in Leith during the autumn. However, TIE must provide at least 28 days' notice before the work begins, with no end to the current dispute with Bilfinger Berger in sight.
Alan Rudland, chairman of the Leith Business Association, said: "We're not anticipating that any track laying will start until next year.
"There's no works embargo in Leith over the festive period, but with the combination of the outstanding utility works and the notice period, it's unlikely the work is going to start any time soon.
"We would have liked to have had the first tracks go down here, as was planned, but that's not happened.
"We understand technical issues happen, but there doesn't appear to be any urgency at the moment."
Mr Rudland also said that TIE had agreed to stop carrying out utility diversions and infrastructure work at the same time, after admitting the approach had been a "dismal failure".
TIE today said the comments were inaccurate, adding it intended to continue integrating elements of utility diversion work and track laying.
A spokesman said: "The track-laying work on Leith Walk is currently part of the ongoing dispute with infrastructure contractor BSC (Bilfinger Siemens CAF). Its start date is dependent upon how quickly the dispute is resolved."
Rail studies consider reopening three stations
Rail campaigners have welcomed the latest developments in plans to reopen three former railway stations in Scotland.
Alex Macaulay, director of the South East Scotland Transport Partnership, has written to Jamie Hepburn, MSP for Central Scotland, offering support for a plan to restore passenger services to Grangemouth along what is currently a freight only line. The letter says SEStran will support Falkirk Council in exploring "the prospect of undertaking a wider exercise in the spirit of STAG [Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance] for improving (passenger) transport links to Grangemouth".
Meanwhile, Transport Scotland says it will conduct a year-long feasibility study that will consider the possibility of opening new stations at East Linton and Reston in east Lothian as part of work to improve rail services on the Edinburgh to Berwick Upon Tweed rail corridor and develop an hourly service between Dunbar and Edinburgh.
First ScotRail is due to take over the operation of some Dunbar-Edinburgh trains from December 2010 as changes to the timetable which will also see the introduction of new ScotRail evening trains. Arriva CrossCountry and National Express East Coast currently serve Dunbar station.
Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said: "We are working hard to ensure communities along the east coast and across Scotland can benefit from access to the rail network and are investing significantly in extending services - both in terms of expanding infrastructure and plugging gaps in the timetable."
In March Jamie Hepburn carried out a consultation seeking the views of local residents on a possible railway station at Grangemouth. A total of 1,131 people responded and 95.3% indicated that they would support a new station in Grangemouth. Some 67.4% of respondents stated that they would use such a station on a weekly or regular basis.
Hepburn said: "The next logical stage is for both Falkirk Council and SEStran to get underway with a STAG appraisal. I believe such a STAG appraisal can assess and demonstrate the viability of a passenger rail station at Grangemouth. I have written to Falkirk Council to seek assurances that this is taken forward sooner rather than later."
And the bad news is the Scotish government has canceled the rail link to Glasgow airport. Worse land that was purchased for the scheme is to be sold meaning little hope of reserecting the scheme.
Airport railway proposal scrapped
(UKPA) – 3 hours ago
The planned Glasgow airport rail link will be axed because of budget pressures, MSPs have been told.
Finance Secretary John Swinney announced the move when he gave details of his budget for next year.
He told MSPs: "The Scottish Government's departmental expenditure - the money over which we have direct control - will reduce in real terms by 0.9% compared with this year.
Construction of a rail link to Glasgow Airport has been abandoned after the project became a high profile victim of Scottish spending cuts.
The Glasgow Airport Rail Link scheme was formally ditched as the Scottish Government set out its draft budget for 2010-11. This explains that the Scottish Government's department for finance and sustainable growth has reduced spending plans by £43.5m on previously published figures and states: "We have also taken the difficult decision not to proceed with the next phase of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link as part of our management of capital budgets overall."
Transport Scotland confirmed this means plans to build a spur off the main line at Paisley to the airport and construction of a new railway station at the airport will not go ahead. A spokesman said the decision has been based "strictly on affordability". Land bought through compulsory purchase orders to allow construction of a viaduct across the M8 motorway to the airport will be sold back to owners at market value, leaving little prospect of the project being resurrected.
Scotland's finance secretary John Swinney said that in light of a range of pressures on the government's overall capital budget, and in anticipation of future years of "capital scarcity" due to the pressures on the UK public finances, the Scottish Government had reluctantly decided to cancel the Glasgow Airport Rail Link project. However, it would financially support other measures to address public transport issues in Glasgow around the needs of the Southern General Hospital and the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
John Swinney said: "In the face of this £500m cut imposed by the UK Treasury, we have had to take tough decisions in order to protect those programmes that matter most to the people of Scotland and which will continue to support economic recovery."
The decision to axe the project comes as Network Rail prepares to start work a week on Sunday (27 September) on building two new platforms at Glasgow Central that would have accommodated passenger trains due to run to the airport. A spokesman for Network Rail said the company was considering the implications of the Scottish Government's announcement but was "still building what we're contracted to deliver".
It is understood that construction of the new platforms will go ahead as part of the Paisley Corridor resignalling project to provide additional train paths between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and which in recent years has been bundled with the Glasgow Airport Rail Link project and costed at between £365m and £395m. Prior to this reorganisation the standalone GARL project was priced at £160m in 2006.
The decision not to proceed with the Glasgow Airport Rail Link represents a blow to the contractors hoping to build the new line - a job worth between £90m and £130m. Four bidders had been shortlisted - a joint venture comprising Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est and Vinci, Carillion, Morrison Construction and Roadbridge/Sisk.
This is the second airport rail link project to be scrapped since the SNP-led administration was elected to power in Scotland in 2007. The more expensive Edinburgh Airport Rail Link scheme was ditched in September 2007 in line with a manifesto commitment.
Borders rail link stays on course
By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South of Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website
You could have forgiven the people of the Scottish Borders for being a bit jumpy on Thursday afternoon.
When the finance secretary announced plans to drop one of Scotland's major rail link projects they must have thought that it was going to be theirs.
It has, after all, been a source of almost constant concern.
However, the £295m reopening of the line between Edinburgh and the Borders will proceed as planned while the Glasgow Airport link is dropped.
SNP MSP Christine Grahame confirmed that her government's commitment remained in place to the south east Scotland scheme.
That will probably cause a fair deal of envy among those who wanted to see the Glasgow Airport Rail Link proceed.
In some ways, the line to Tweedbank might have seemed just as likely to be axed.
It has seen its projected costs rise sharply, fallen behind its original timetable and does not enjoy universal support in the Borders.
There have also been questions raised about commitment to the scheme and its advisability since the bill to restore the link got Royal Assent in July 2006.
Opponents have described the project as "environmental and economic folly".
They have questioned the wisdom of what they see as an attempt to turn the Scottish Borders into a commuter zone for Edinburgh.
There are also concerns about how many people would actually use the service.
Others, however, do wish to see the scheme proceed.
At present, there are no railway stations in the Scottish Borders so access to train services is problematic to say the least.
Reopening the rail line also represents a significant investment in the area.
It has been described as a major step in making the region "more accessible".
With such conflicting views it remains a project which stirs strong emotions.
Any decision to drop the plans would certainly have provoked intense debate.
To some eyes, the sacrifice of a line serving communities like Tweedbank, Stow or Galashiels might have been more obvious than shelving a link to a major airport.
Others could argue that funding should not be concentrated in the central belt.
Whatever side of that fence you sit on, it makes for an interesting debate.
Is it better to target services at your biggest customer base or provide them in an area which has gone without them for some time?
It is the kind of decision which politicians are elected to make but that probably does not make it any easier.
The Borders rail link emerged the winner on Thursday in a move which has been dubbed "anti-Glasgow".
The fact that the Tweedbank line runs to Edinburgh will not have soothed those feelings.
However, it now appears that it will be the Borders and not Glasgow Airport which gets its train tracks.
Construction work should start on the south east Scotland project in 2011 with completion due in 2013.
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has expressed its disappointment at ministers' decision to scrap the Glasgow Airport Rail Link and says any cost overruns have arisen since the Scottish Government's Transport Scotland agency took control of the project in May 2008.
SPT, which was promoter of the GARL project from 2004 to 2008 and oversaw the passage of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link Bill through the Scottish parliament - and which received Royal Assent in January 2007 - has also questioned the impact of the decision on the Commonwealth Games, due to be held in Glasgow in 2014.
Nov 04 - GARL consultation launched
Dec 04 - SPT releases detailed plans of airport rail link route
June 05 - Viaduct chosen for St. James' Park crossing
Jan 06 - GARL bill introduced into Parliament
March 06 - SPT schedules GARL meetings with community groups
June 06 - GARL bill passes to consideration stage
Oct 06 - BAA withdraws objection to project; SPT awards £2m GARL design contract to Atkins
Jan 07 - GARL bill gets Royal Assent
June 07 - Souters Sports gets £1.5m contract to provide temporary pitches
Oct 07 - Renfrewshire approves plans for station platforms
Nov 07 - £1.3m ground investigations contract awarded to Soil Mechanics
Dec 07 - Community sports pavilion gets go ahead
Feb 08 - Expressions of interest sought for £2.5m utility diversions contract
May 08 - Transport Scotland takes over from SPT as project promoter
June 08 - Construction contract for new rail line goes out to tender
Dec 08- Four bidders shortlisted for construction contract
May 09 - Network Rail completes GARL prep work
Sept 09 - Scottish Government withdraws funding for GARL; Network Rail scheduled to start building platforms for GARL at Glasgow Central
Alistair Watson, chair of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, said: "We are deeply disappointed at the cancellation of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link, particularly as SPT has campaigned for the project for 20 years. We hope that it doesn't prejudice the Commonwealth Games as the airport link is central to the bid."
In a statement SPT added: "All the initial cost estimates of the project were submitted to the Scottish parliament in January 2007. They were scrutinised and approved as accurate at that time. It is therefore our view that if problems with rising costs have arisen these have developed after the time that SPT was the lead agency on the project."
However, a spokesman for Transport Scotland said the cost of necessary preparatory work had been significantly underestimated: "Following discussions with BAA, we now estimate the cost of relocation work within the airport [including fuel farm and car parking/car hire] and compensation alone to be in the order of £70m compared with the original estimate of £8m as presented to the Scottish Parliament. This is money we would have to spend without laying a single metre of track and in today's challenging economic climate that is simply not affordable."
Glasgow Airport owner BAA also questioned the budgeting process for the GARL project. A spokesman for the company said: "We are disappointed that Transport Scotland underestimated the costs of relocating infrastructure to the extent that the project can no longer proceed. We raised our concerns over the original cost estimates when the Glasgow Airport rail link was reviewed by the Scottish Parliament three years ago and recognise that Scottish ministers have since faced significant increased costs from Transport Scotland's revised forecasts."
The Scottish Government's decision to axe the project comes only days after press reports suggested the cost of relocating fuel tanks near the site of the proposed airport station had risen from £5m to £30m - less than half the actual cost, according to Transport Scotland. BAA, which has been told by the Competition Commission that it must sell either Glasgow or Edinburgh Airport, is understood to have been unwilling to pay the cost of moving the fuel tanks.
Attention will now focus on the cost to the taxpayer of scrapping the airport rail link, also known as the St James's spur, which was priced at £160m in 2006 before the costs of the project were combined with those of the Paisley corridor resignalling scheme - and which will go ahead. Design and preparatory contracts already let are expected to exceed £10m while land acquisition costs may be partially recouped by selling back property compulsorily purchased for the scheme. Contributions to the scheme from BAA and the European Union's Trans-European Network fund will also be lost.
The decision to axe the rail link will give fresh impetus to Glasgow's bus rapid transit plans which become increasingly important as preparations for the Commonwealth Games gather pace. A spokesman for SPT said: "Every cloud has a silver lining though and we welcome the government support for our bus rapid transit system know as Fastlink. Our plans are at an advanced stage and we are actively working in partnership with the government to develop this project as soon as possible."
Transport Scotland has detailed improvements to train services that will feature in the new winter timetable, which starts on Sunday 13 December.
Operated by First ScotRail, the winter timetable will include a new hourly fast service between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh via Shotts and a new half hourly service between Glasgow and Kilmarnock.
The hourly service between Glasgow Central and Edinburgh via Shotts more than doubles the number of journeys running on that line. It is the first of a package of improvements between Glasgow and Edinburgh identified in the Scottish Government's Strategic Transport Projects Review.
Journey times will be cut between the principal stations on the route to both Glasgow and Edinburgh and additional services will operate in the evening in both directions, offering a more regular service.
Passengers in Ayrshire will benefit from the new half hourly service between Glasgow and Kilmarnock, with 68 trains per day calling at Kilmarnock compared to 36 trains at present.
There will also be earlier morning services from Ayr and Gourock to Glasgow, between North Berwick and Edinburgh, and between Dumfries and Carlisle - all of which will improve connections to London and allow passengers to arrive in the capital earlier than at present.
The new services offer faster journeys for Lanarkshire passengers travelling to and from Edinburgh and for West Lothian passengers travelling to and from Glasgow.
In south west Scotland, the timetable has been amended to maintain connections with Stranraer ferry services, offering a wider spread of services from Kilmarnock to Ayr and beyond in the evening peak. These changes also deliver a better range of southbound services from Ayr, enhancing commuting opportunities.
Additional early morning and late evening services between Dumfries and Carlisle will be introduced, improving connections to London via Carlisle. The new early morning services from Dumfries will allow passengers to connect to a service arriving in London before 0930.
The early services from Ayr and Gourock into Glasgow will provide a connection with the 0630 Glasgow to London Euston service, while the additional North Berwick service to Edinburgh will provide a connection with the 0700 Edinburgh to London King's Cross service.
Transport minister Stewart Stevenson said: "We have attempted to strike the correct balance between enhancing connectivity and improving journey times and we believe these changes being introduced in December will mean even more people will have the opportunity to make the switch to public transport."
These new services follow improvements to services on the Edinburgh-Fife-Aberdeen line introduced last December and in the summer timetable earlier this year.
Civil engineering work for the Airdrie-Bathgate rail reopening scheme is in full swing, according to a project update from Network Rail.
During the past month 700 staff have spent a total of 186,000 hours working on the line. Construction activity is currently focused at 15 bridges along the non-operational section of the route between Bathgate and Drumgelloch.
In West Lothian weekend trains to and from Bathgate will be replaced by bus services until 18 October to allow for a variety of bridge works, overhead line works and track renewals. Network Rail says work at Bathgate light maintenance depot is progressing well, with the platform track installed and all cross track overhead line electrification gantries erected.
Airdrie-Bathgate rail 2009 schedule
Continue electrification masts Haymarket to Bathgate
Construction of various bridges between Bathgate and Drumgelloch
Begin construction of Bathgate train maintenance depot
Begin construction of new Bathgate station
Begin construction of Armadale and Caldercruix stations
Complete Armadale station
Finish new Bathgate station
Finish Caldercruix station
Erect overhead wires between Haymarket and Bathgate
Begin construction of new Drumgelloch station
Foundations for the new Bathgate station have been laid with the station facilities beginning to take shape. Weekend piling works will begin at Uphall station next week until 18 October to allow for the new widened road bridge under the railway. Work has started on the car park at Armadale Station.
Meanwhile, construction of the new Whitburn Road bridge at Bathgate continues with traffic using a temporary diversion road until February 2010. Major gas pipe diversion work has been taking place at Station Road, Armadale and should be complete by mid October, allowing the road to be reopened to traffic.
In North Lanarkshire the temporary road on the A89 between Plains and Caldercruix has been constructed and is now in use by the public as work begins on Main Street to remove the existing bridge. Network Rail contractors are building a new bridge with a road beneath it to facilitate the rail link.
Retaining walls have been erected at Hillend Loch as part of the new road access along the lochside. There has also been work on the infill at the loch ahead of the construction of the new cycleway. Major earth moving is taking place along the route to re-shape the ground to the requirements of the new track. Utility diversions at Towers Road have now been completed, allowing the old bridge to be demolished in early October
Hugh Wark, senior project manager for Network Rail, said: "I recently surveyed the line of route by helicopter and it's clear that the project is starting to shape the local landscape. It is really encouraging to see the results of our ongoing hard work as the railway starts to emerge."
The £300m Transport Scotland funded project will provide a new route between Glasgow and Edinburgh using double tracked electrified lines. Airdrie-Bathgate services are scheduled to start running in December 2010.
Network Rail has embarked on the latest stage of redevelopment work at Edinburgh Waverley - demolition of a redundant post office depot on the north east side of the station.
Work will involve the isolation and demolition of the compound and the roof level conveyor, which once linked the station to the General Post Office building on Princes Street. The job is due to be completed by the end of November and will involve four Sunday closures of platforms 1 and 2 between 11 October and 1 November to allow work to take place over the tracks.
Waverley redevelopment timeline
Autumn 2009 - Demolition of redundant GPO building and associated link bridge
Early 2010-Autumn 2011 - Installation of Waverley Steps lift and escalator
April 2010-Autumn 2013 - Renewal of main roof
March 2011-September 2012 - Market Street and platform 8 and 9 works
June 2012-June 2014 - Main building works
Once cleared, the site will be used as a compound for the wider improvement scheme due to take place at Waverley over the next four years. The renewal of the station's 34,000 metre square Victorian glazed roof is at the heart of the project, with the aim to create a bright and spacious station environment. New entrances from Market Street and from Princes Street via the Waverley Steps are planned, along with improvements to the station concourse and building exteriors.
Ron McAulay, Network Rail's director, Scotland, said: "This week marks the start of a new phase of improvements for Edinburgh Waverley. In recent years, we have increased the station's capacity for running trains, introduced new platforms and installed new lifts and escalators. The next stage will see passengers benefit even further from an improved station environment.
"Not only will the glass in the famous old roof be replaced, shedding new light on the station below, but we will be creating new, fully accessible entrances from Market Street and Princes Street. Also, our general improvements to the concourse and building exteriors will provide a marked improvement to the look of the station.
The depot building was originally used by Royal Mail to transfer sorted mail from the General Post Office building at the east end of Princes Street on to train services, which would then dispatch mail to locations across the UK. Mail was transferred to the depot via a conveyor which linked directly to the lower levels of the GPO building.
While the conveyor became redundant shortly before the closure of the GPO building in October 1995, the depot was still used for mail sorting until earlier this decade. In recent years, it has been used as car parking space for residents of the Balmoral Hotel.
The space freed up by the demolition of the building will be used as a depot for Network Rail contractors working on the roof renewal project. Use of the site following completion of the roof renewals has still to be decided.
Mott MacDonald appointed on Transport Scotland network operations framework
1 October, 2009
Mott MacDonald has been selected for Transport Scotland’s Network Operations Framework to provide intelligent transport systems (ITS) technical advisory services.
The framework approach is designed to help deliver good value for money by allowing Transport Scotland access to specialist expertise more rapidly without the need to tender for individual projects. The scope of services provided by the framework consultants will be extremely wide and cover areas including ITS development, ITS infrastructure support, control centre building design and delivery, as well as website development and support.
Colum Crawford, Mott MacDonald’s manager for the framework said: “We are delighted to be selected by Transport Scotland, Mott MacDonald is one of only four consultants to be chosen. We’re looking forward to supporting Transport Scotland in the continued development and innovation of intelligent transport systems for Scotland.”
David Bonn, Mott MacDonald’s head of ITS added: “This appointment demonstrates the strength of Mott MacDonald’s ITS team and will provide a platform for Transport Scotland to use the wide range of professional skills available through our network of Scottish offices and global transport business.”
Mott MacDonald’s ITS team in Glasgow is a centre of excellence for the company’s global transport business which has some 3000 professional staff from a wide range of related disciplines – economists, environmentalists, transport planners, procurement experts, engineers, project and programme managers, safety specialists, cost consultants, ergonomists, transport modelling specialists and IT experts. This wealth of experience and skilled resource enables the company to mobilise multi-disciplinary teams tailored to providing a total service for customers, embracing all facets from advisory, economic and planning to design, construction supervision and asset management post-completion. The Group’s vast network of offices world-wide means Mott MacDonald can provide a total consulting service wherever customers or their projects are based.
Rail link cost rise 'inaccurate'
The leader of Glasgow City Council has accused ministers of providing misleading information about the cost of the city's airport rail link.
Steven Purcell expressed concerns to MSPs over double-accounting on the project, which the government scrapped.
Ministers announced the link would go amid concern over rising costs and impending Scottish budget cuts.
Mr Purcell said the project costs had gone up by £2.5m - not the £70m he said he was quoted by the government.
The Scottish government has disputed Mr Purcell's £2.5m claim, saying the costs were constantly changing.
Ministers insisted the rising costs had rendered the project unaffordable.
Relations between Scotland's largest local authority and ministers have deteriorated since the Scottish government axed the Glasgow Airport Rail Link.
The comments by Mr Purcell, who has accused the SNP of being "anti-Glasgow", came as he was questioned by Holyrood's transport committee on the government's proposed budget for the year ahead.
The council leader told the committee that, before the scrapping of the rail link was announced, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson indicated to him its cost had increased since it was last considered by ministers by about £70m.
Mr Purcell said ministers indicated in December 2008 the project's bill would be between £365.5m and £395m, and had now provided figures to the committee saying the price had risen to £397.5m.
"Now that we have had the opportunity to look at the figures that have been provided to the committee by the finance secretary [John Swinney], I am clear that £70m figure is not accurate and is misleading," he said.
"The figure of increase would appear to be £2.5m and not the £70m that was quoted in my telephone conversation with the transport minister".
Mr Purcell went on to say: "There's either been some serious mismanagement that has to be examined or there is a great deal of double accounting going on within the current budget process."
Mr Swinney previously said the airport rail link had to go to help cope with a £129m cut in the NHS budget, as a result of UK government reductions in heath department capital spending.
However, the Scottish government has said it would guarantee a £2.3m EU loan application to refurbish Dalmarnock train station, in Glasgow's east end, seen as an essential part of the city's preparations for hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
During a meeting with First Minister Alex Salmond last week, Mr Purcell said he was told to "behave like a grown up", further denting relations between Glasgow City Council and the Scottish government.
A spokesman for Mr Salmond said the Scottish government was "very clear" the Glasgow Airport Rail Link was unaffordable - and challenged Mr Purcell to bring forward plans on how it would be paid for.
"The bottom line is that the cost of the project had increased and our capital budget had been cut by Westminster," said the spokesman.
"In these circumstances, something had to give and, in terms of delivering a capital budget that was affordable and sustainable over time, a decision was taken to cancel the Glasgow Airport Rail Link."
Risks to funicular 'not reviewed'
Building and operation of the railway has cost £26.75m so far
A decline in skiers was among risks to a mountain railway not taken into account before it was built, according to a new Audit Scotland report.
The public spending watchdog investigated Highlands and Islands Enterprise's (HIE) backing of the Cairngorms' funicular.
Audit Scotland said HIE also did not review the financial struggles of the railway's operator before work began.
Opened in 2001, construction cost £19.5m - almost £5m more than expected.
The railway connects a base station with the Ptarmigan Restaurant 1,097m up CairnGorm mountain. It is used by skiers and tourists.
HIE took over the railway from operator CairnGorm Mountain Limited (CML) last year.
Since construction work started in 1999, the building and operation of the funicular has run to more than £26.75m.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise did not fully take account of new risks that emerged early on in the project
Auditor General for Scotland
Most of the funding has come from HIE which has spent £19.42m, followed by £3.26m from the Bank of Scotland, £2.61m of European Union grant aid, £1m from Highland Council and £100,000 from the Cairngorm Trust.
In its report, Audit Scotland said the railway had met expectations of creating employment and attracting tourists.
But prior to construction, the watchdog said HIE had been focused on the project's design and controlling costs but had not taken account of, or reviewed, changes affecting skiing and operator CML.
At the time the number of skiers using slopes in the Cairngorms was in decline.
In 1997, 97,000 skiers used Cairngorm but this fell to 75,000 in 1998, according the report.
The business case put together in support of the project had assumed 186,000 ski visitors per year.
CML was also struggling financially, said Audit Scotland.
In 1997 and 1998, the company reported losses of £607,000 and £625,000.
Also contained in the report are the £30m-£50m "speculative" costs of shutting down the railway and dismantling it.
A condition of its planning permission is that if the funicular does not operate for a period of 12 months - or longer if agreed with Highland Council and Scottish Natural Heritage - it should be removed and the land reinstated to its original state.
If this happens, the project's EU funding would also have to be repaid.
Richard Black, Auditor General for Scotland, said the building of the funicular was seen as key to regeneration of the area and was expected to contribute to increased tourism and employment.
He said: "Many of the expected benefits have been realised.
"However, Highlands and Islands Enterprise did not fully take account of new risks that emerged early on in the project, and the construction of the funicular cost about one third more than expected."
Mr Black said following its takeover of the railway the agency "must learn from its experiences to date".
He added: "It must fully assess the risks, review the current performance and develop clear objectives."
Don't forget to LIKE us on Facebook at: Railpage Facebook Feed