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Edinburgh Airport rail improvements

27/09/2007

Proposals for an alternative to the previous Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (EARL) project were today set out by the Scottish Government and approved in Parliament.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson vowed to provide good public transport access to Edinburgh Airport in order to encourage fewer people to drive there.

He also stated that the proposals will be delivered for a fraction of the cost of EARL project and without high risk.

The proposals are:

  • To add an airport station at Gogar on the Fife railway line. This will complement rather than compete with the tram project. This can be delivered sooner than Audit Scotland believed EARL would have been completed
  • To add an interchange between the tram and the rail network at Gogar, delivered in time for the opening of the tram. This will allow passengers from Fife and further North to easily and quickly access the aiport without need to travel to the city centre as now
  • To build a rail link between the Fife and Edinburgh Glasgow routes - the Dalmeny chord. This would allow Edinburgh and Glasgow trains to stop at the new airport station

Mr Stevenson said:

"The planned EARL project was hugely complex and demanded clear and co-ordinated project management. The June Audit Scotland report told us that the project did not have this. Key stakeholders confirmed this position and it is clear that no agreement had been reached on the most effective way forward to deliver EARL.

"In particular, none of the key stakeholders were willing to take responsibility for the risks associated with the construction of the tunnel. That would have meant tax payers having to take on an unlimited risk. A risk that this government is not willing to take. An Edinburgh Airport rail link cannot proceed in its original form.

"The proposals approved by parliament today will provide good public transport access to Edinburgh Airport to encourage fewer people to drive there. It will also be delivered for a fraction of the cost of the EARL project and without high risk.

"EARL was estimated to cost more than £600 million. The proposals approved by parliament today will be delivered for around £200 million - less than a third of the cost."

The Minister also set out plans for a ten year investment programme setting out how the government intend to enhance the rail network across Scotland in line with the High Level Output Specification. This would involve the electrification of the Edinburgh to Glasgow route, with benefits for the environment, performance for the passenger and lower operating costs.

It is planned that this will include up to six trains an hour on the Edinburgh/Glasgow train route, with express services travelling from city centre to city centre at a journey time of around 35 minutes.

Including investment in other central Scotland routes this could mean as many as thirteen services between the two cities every hour within ten years.

HLOS was announced in July in parliament and today's statement is in line with Minister's Scottish rail priorities.