Life after CP5: Planning Scotland’s rail future

Network Rail has drawn up a list of enhancement options for CP6 and CP7 deemed necessary to meet an expected large increase in future traffic demand.

Passenger journeys have increased 96% since 1995/96 and rose to 96.1 million in 2014/15. By 2043 morning commuter traffic (between 0700 and 1000) is projected to grow by the following amounts: Edinburgh (115%); Glasgow (128%); Aberdeen (226%); interurban traffic (197%) & rural traffic (158%), according to the recently-published Scotland Route Study.

“The purpose of the Route Study is to provide an evidence base that will inform funders in Scotland when considering rail industry investment choices for Control Periods 6 and 7 between 2019 and 2029. It is one of a new generation of Studies across Great Britain which will also set out how forecast growth could be met through to 2043. This longer term planning horizon is deliberate: it enables abroad range of options to be considered that take account of developments such as High Speed 2 and technological advancements, with a view to creating a prioritised set of choices for the next 10 years and beyond.

“This Route Study also contains a Market Study which forecasts demand for passenger journeys undertaken wholly within Scotland,” Network Rail explains.

The rail industry also has an aspirational plan – the Indicative Train Service Specification (ITSS) – which highlights the investment options necessary to achieve the additional capacity and other improvements anticipated by 2043. Seven areas have been identified:

  • Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket to Glasgow Queen Street (High Level) and Fife;
  • Edinburgh Waverley and Anglo Scottish Routes from Slateford to Berwick-upon-Tweed;
  • Glasgow Central (High Level) and associated lines, including the WCML to Carlisle and Carstairs to Haymarket;
  • Glasgow Queen Street (High Level) to Aberdeen and Inverness;
  • Strathclyde suburban network;
  • Aberdeen to Inverness;
  • The Far North Line (Inverness – Wick/Thurso).

The list is fairly inclusive but there are three major omissions: the West Highland railway to Fort William, Mallaig and Oban; the Stranraer route from Ayr; and the ex G&SW line to Carlisle via Dumfries (though this could be re-gauged for freight traffic).

However the route study also adds – as if in reassurance – that all routes “are deemed to be capable of delivering the 2043 ITSS.”

Currently, a number of committed projects should be completed by 2019 (the end of the CP5 control period).This includes electrification of all routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow; electrification to Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa; Aberdeen to Inverness Phase 1 (increasing service frequencies); and Highland Main Line Phase 2 (reducing journey times). Another CP5 project, the Borders Railway reopening, has already been achieved.

Estimated cost Enhancement details & comments
£125-£300m ECML four-tracking between Drem and Prestonpans: to separate and speed up fast and slow moving traffic.
£150-£375m ECML passing loops on both lines near Granthouse:  there are currently no Scottish loops on ECML that can take 775m freight trains.
£7m-£17.5m Edinburgh Waverley platform enhancements: three platforms will be extended by March 2019, but three more extensions will be need.
£150m-£250m Edinburgh Waverley western end approaches: Winchburgh Junction grade separation and a new Almond Chord to reroute some Edinburgh to Glasgow trains.
£150m-£375m Edinburgh Waverley eastern approaches: additional trackwork and redoubling the Calton North Tunnel to facilitate greater flexibility.
£211m-£330m Edinburgh suburban enhancement: electrification of suburban line (from Newcraighall to Slateford Junction);  also used by freight trains as a diversionary route to bypass Waverley station.
£15m-£50m W12 Gauge enhancements:  from WCML to Grangemouth , and from Carstairs to Grangemouth (by two different routes).
£66m-£150m W10/W12 Gauge enhancements: on G&SW line (to Dumfries and Kilmarnock) to permit use as diversionary route.
£125m-£250m Carstairs enhancement: re-alignment for higher speeds (but would still be unable to handle 400m HS2 trains that would have to separate at Carstairs).
£5m-£10m High speed enabling projects: 200m HS2 trains will be running to Scotland in 2026, and 400m ones will follow in 2033.
£60m-£100m Electrification of the Maryhill line: this will be the only diesel-worked service on the north Glasgow suburban lines by 2019; length five miles (from Cowlairs Junction to Westerton/Anniesland).
£150m-£300m Electrification and enhancement of East Kilbride branch, and to Barrhead (on the G&SW Kilmarnock route; length 14 miles.
£80m- £200m Electrification and enhancement to Kilmarnock and Barassie: length 25 miles.
£90m-£150m Greenhill Upper Junction grade separation: to avoid conflicting movements between Glasgow –Edinburgh and Glasgow-Aberdeen trains.
£295m-£600m Dunblane to Perth corridor enhancement: conventional signalling needs replacing before electrification; Perth platform alterations.
£114m-£280m Aberdeen to Inverness enhancement: additional passing loops and signalling improvements to improve service frequencies.
£30m-£75m Far North enhancement: additional passing loops; new Georgmas Chord (to avoid reversal); and conversion of Inverness-Dingwall from RETB to conventional signalling.

Network Rail has also considered a number of (as yet) uncosted projects, including electrification to Aberdeen and Inverness, as well as doubling the remaining short single track sections near Perth and Montrose on the Glasgow-Aberdeen line.

Not all options will make it to CP6 or CP7; some may be modified or deferred to later control periods.

Route options for CP6 & CP7
Route options for CP6 & CP7 and the details:

Scotland RS 2)

Network Rail has also done some appraisals on projects that have to be completed towards the end of CP6 (2023/24). These results take in wider economic and social factors as well:

NPV BCR Details
-6.51 0.59 Edinburgh Waverley – Fife: train lengthening from three to six cars during morning peak.
 4.29 1.08 Carstairs area enhancement; like-for-like renewal.
11.02 1.66 Balloch-Airdrie via Glasgow Queen Street; train lengthening from three to six cars during morning peak.
13.42 2.80 Motherwell-Milngavie: train lengthening from three to six cars during morning peak.
 1.77 1.10 Glasgow Central-Gourock: train lengthening from three to six trains during morning peak.
16.65 2.94 Glasgow Central-Ayrshire: train lengthening from seven to eight cars during morning peak.

The Route Study was released after a public consultation between December 2015 and March 2016. 136 responses were received: 43% from members of the public; 17% from local bodies; but only 5% from the rail industry.


Scotland Rail Study



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