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Tram uncertainties hold up Edinburgh- to-Glasgow improvements

by Arthur Allan

A key element of the £1bn programme to improve Edinburgh-to-Glasgow services has been put on ice for up to fi ve years. The £30m station project is a casualty of ongoing uncertainty over the future of the Edinburgh trams project. The interchange at Gogar, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, was to have combined a new rail station on the Edinburgh-to-Fife route and a tram stop. It was designed to allow rail passengers to transfer to and from Edinburgh Airport via tram. However, Network Rail has confi rmed that

work on the facility has been suspended while the future of the tram scheme is discussed. Negotiations are continuing over contractual

disputes, which have stalled the tram programme. Last month the SNP leader, Alex Salmond, predicted in a televised debate that the troubled tram project would come to ‘nothing at all’. Funded by Transport Scotland, the Gogar

scheme was described by Network Rail last year as a ‘crucial transport link’ for central Scotland and the airport. Work was due to start around now for completion in the autumn. Confi rming the halt to the scheme, a company spokesman said: ‘It has not been possible to progress the works as we had hoped. The integrated nature of the design for this interchange facility means we are waiting for the wider issues affecting the tram project to be resolved.’ Gogar had already been a bone of contention

Electrifi cation equipment sought ■

Network Rail has issued an invitation to tender for machinery and equipment

to install overhead power lines on the Great Western and other routes. It follows last month’s announcement that

electrifi cation would extend to Cardiff, along with previously committed electrifi cation to Oxford and Newbury, as well as schemes between Liverpool, Manchester and Blackpool. Simon Kirby, Network Rail’s director of

infrastructure projects, said: ‘Our plans to install overhead power lines on the Great Western and in the north west are at an advanced state and this tender marks our commitment to deliver

these schemes quickly, effi ciently and at a cost that is affordable.’ Network Rail is planning to complete

electrifi cation to Bristol by the end of 2016, and to Cardiff a year later. Liverpool to Manchester is due in 2014 and Blackpool in 2016. Network Rail says the multi-million pound

tender will be let under a new contracting strategy. Whichever company wins will become ‘fully integrated into Network Rail’s delivery team’. The equipment will be expected to minimise disruption to services, carrying out most of the work within overnight eight-hour possessions.

between Network Rail and the tram project’s sponsors due to escalating costs. It was to have been part of a £1bn investment

to boost connections between Scotland’s two main cities and their surrounding towns. Work on other elements of these improvements will continue, and Gogar would need to be complete by 2016 at the latest to dovetail with them.

‘Negotiations are continuing over contractual disputes, which have stalled the tram programme’

Artist’s impression of the improvement works at Gatwick

Gatwick upgrade begins early

Part of a £53m upgrade of Gatwick Airport station in West Sussex is being brought forward, ahead of the Olympic Games.

Major construction work is due to start in

autumn 2012. It includes the building of two new platforms to ease one of the biggest bottlenecks on the congested Brighton line. But with many extra passengers expected

to use the station during the Olympics and Paralympics, some of the work will now be done early. It includes changing the concourse layout to reduce congestion, and renewing the fl oor and ceiling.

Mark Ruddy, Network Rail’s route director

for Sussex, said: ‘Gatwick Airport station will become one of 10 major railway upgrades to be completed in time for the Olympics.’ The airport’s chief executive, Stuart Wingate,

added: ‘This will complement the improvements we are already making to the airport through our £1bn investment programme.’ Network Rail is providing £44.9m of the project cost, with £7.9m coming from Gatwick Airport. The work is due for completion at the end of 2013.

MAY 2011 PAGE 7

Network Rail

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