Falkirk’s rail users will soon be able to enjoy the benefits of a £650 million plan to improve links between Scotland’s two main cities.
Situated in the middle of the busy Edinburgh to Glasgow route, Falkirk High Station and its regular commuters, although not the main focus of the work being carried out, will reap the rewards the a massive project will bring.
Seen as the next phase in the electrification of Scotland’s rail network, the biggest difference the multi-million pound Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme will make locally is in reducing journey times by around 10 minutes, increasing passenger capacity and making it easier to get Internet access on board trains.
Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “People living in Falkirk will be among the first to benefit from the new measures. Passengers will benefit from faster journey times between Edinburgh and Glasgow - cutting the length of the commute – increased capacity and revitalised Queen Street and Haymarket stations.
“Passengers who use Falkirk High, Polmont and Linlithgow stations will all benefit from these exciting journey improvements – travelling in more comfort on cleaner, greener, faster electric trains.
“Camelon and Falkirk Grahamston are on the Stirling to Dunblane line and, while they won’t be included in the first phase, we are looking at the opportunities on offer to deliver electrification of Dunblane to Alloa services in future phases.”
Falkirk High Station, which dates back to 1842, currently sees eight trains stopping per hour, seven days a week – four for Glasgow and four for Edinburgh.
At the moment journey times to Edinburgh range from 27 minutes to 38 minutes, depending on stopping stations and time of day, while Glasgow journeys take around 18 to 26 minutes most days.
Passengers will certainly welcome the faster journeys, but the EGIP will also create hundreds of jobs and support thousands more – providing a major boost to Scotland’s long-term economic sustainability.
The EGIP is also geared to have a positive impact on the environment, with the introduction of modern and efficient electric rolling stock leading to a cleaner and quieter railways with lower carbon emissions.
The next phase of the programme was launched last week by Mr Brown at Glasgow Queen Street, which will be transformed into a world-class integrated transport hub thanks to the project.
Mr Brown said: “The Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme will take train journeys on Scotland’s busiest commuter route into the next generation. These enhancements to the service will be a massive boost for both cities and all the communities which surround them.
“The Scottish Government has a fantastic record of delivering rail projects when working together with our partners Network Rail and ScotRail.”
By 2016 it is hoped the EGIP will significantly improve connections and journey times between Edinburgh and Glasgow via all routes - including services from Falkirk Grahamston.
An EGIP spokesman said: “This project will bring improved reliability, increased service frequency, reduced journey times, better stations and improved links with other modes of transport through interchange facilities.
“An electrified railway is the most carbon efficient mode of mass transport and is an essential part of a future low carbon economy. New modern electric trains are lighter and quieter than the diesel trains they will replace.”
According to EGIP the next stage of improvements will eventually see six trains per hour operating between Edinburgh and Glasgow – passing through Falkirk High – with a fastest journey time of 37 minutes.
The spokesman added: “Where we have been able to, work has been started and, in some cases, completed on elements of the wider EGIP.”