Transport Scotland will fund a £15 million programme to develop options to improve the western approaches to Edinburgh Waverley station.
This is a critical location on the Scottish rail network. The four-track railway approaching Edinburgh Waverley from Winchburgh via Haymarket station (the Haymarket Corridor) is one of the busiest sections of the railway in Scotland, with approximately one third of all Scotland’s trains and rail passengers travelling through the corridor annually.
Currently, 24 trains per hour travel through the Haymarket Corridor in the morning peak and, due to future demand, train operators plan to increase this to 28 trains per hour. In addition, longer term forecast demand for additional services is expected to place even further pressure on this corridor in the years to come.
A late-running train, even one delayed by just a couple of minutes, can cause significant delays to other services and, often, a knock-on impact throughout the wider network.
To improve matters, three infrastructure options for delivering capacity and performance improvements in this section of the railway are being considered. These are:
- A new chord (Almond chord) with flat junctions at both Winchburgh and Almond;
- The Almond chord with a flat Winchburgh Junction and a grade separated Almond junction;
- The Almond chord with grade separated junctions at both Winchburgh and Almond.
The work now being funded now will include detailed modelling to establish the performance benefits and suggest which option is most suitable, weighing up costs against the future needs of the railway.
Announcing the new programme, Scottish Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “With Edinburgh being a key economic driver for the country, a reliable train service is essential for commuter and business travel. It provides confidence to businesses and commuters alike, that rail is the best option for their journey and thus enables the continued growth and prosperity of the city.
“One of the key aims of the Edinburgh Waverley Western Approaches project is to provide additional capacity to reduce these constraints, improve performance and give greater resilience across the railway.”
All three options being explored offer:
- Diversionary capacity by providing an additional main electrified route from Winchburgh junction, which will be of great value when operational incidents occur between Haymarket and Winchburgh junction, such as the recent flooding in Winchburgh tunnel;
- Access to Edinburgh Gateway station for passengers to and from the West;
- Mitigation against the journey time and performance impact of a new Winchburgh station by providing a new route for fast Edinburgh to Glasgow services whilst maintaining the 42-minute end-to-end journey time;
- Support for the High Level Output Specification (HLOS) gauging strategy by facilitating a W12-gauge loading route for freight;
- Support for previous development work undertaken for the Almond chord as part of the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP);
- Support for the rolling programme of electrification (RPE) by the electrification of the route from Winchburgh to Dalmeny, which would be required under RPE anyway.
Whilst this project seeks to improve train performance in the vicinity of Haymarket, it will also deliver performance benefits across the wider Scottish rail network and build on the journey time and capacity benefits delivered under the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP). EWWA contributes towards the opportunity to deal with forecast overcrowding on the Edinburgh to Glasgow route up to 2025.