The newest section of electrified railway on the Scottish network has been approved for passenger use following completion of testing and line proving over the weekend.
The first section of the Stirling-Dunblane-Alloa (SDA) electrification project completed by Network Rail engineers covers 26 single track kilometres between Greenhill, Larbert and Polmont junctions and includes Falkirk Grahamston and Camelon stations.
As well as providing a diversionary route for electric trains using the main Edinburgh – Glasgow via Falkirk High route an electrified route between Glasgow Queen Street and Falkirk Grahamston via Cumbernauld, the completion of the line also delivers additional benefits with the future proofing of the Grangemouth branch section for freight.
Work began on this section of the project in October 2016 with vegetation clearance followed by sinking more than 750 piled foundations, erecting over 500 masts and running circa 120km wires before the line was energised at 25,000v on May 1.
Subsequent testing and line proving is now complete with the new line now fit and authorised for passenger traffic.
Iain McFarlane, Network Rail’s route delivery director for the SDA electrification project, said: “Completing the first section of the Stirling-Dunblane-Alloa programme marks an important milestone for the project and a big step forward in our journey towards transforming central Scotland’s railway network.
“We are grateful for the patience and cooperation of the local community as we delivered this work which we appreciate has been inconvenient. With the work complete and the line now fit for electric services, the benefits of quieter, cleaner, greener trains will start to become apparent to lineside communities – with the benefits for passengers; more seats and faster journeys on new modern trains set for later in the year.”
Electrification of central Scotland’s rail network will reduce journey times from Stirling to Glasgow and Edinburgh, increase capacity on peak services and provide longer, faster greener trains.
With the overhead power wires carrying 25,000 volts of electricity, a campaign is now underway to highlight the new dangers an electrified railway poses to those who trespass on the tracks or accidentally make contact with overhead lines.
Once complete, in 2019, the Scottish Government-funded electrification of Stirling-Dunblane-Alloa will mean many services operated by electric class 385 trains, which will offer a better experience and reduce some journey times from Stirling to Glasgow and Edinburgh; more seats on services between Alloa, Dunblane, Bridge of Allan, Stirling and Edinburgh and less noise and better air quality for those who live and work near the railway.