EGIP: Closer Than You Think

No, this is not a message from the Cairo Tourist Board but shorthand for what must be the most no-brainer transport project in Scotland. Whereas five miles of M74 cost us £675m and 0 miles of Edinburgh tram cost us £600m (and counting) a plan is now out for public consultation to give Central Scotland 350km of modern, electrified railway. There was always something third world about cramped diesel trains providing the key backbone to green travel in Scotland. Every European capital but Dublin and ours (OK, plus Rekyavik—but they have no trains) has electrified its train network.

The Edinburgh-Glasgow Infrastructure Project (EGIP) will cost £900m—some £100m less than originally projected. For that money we get:

  • 35-minute journey times between Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • 13 trains per hour between Edinburgh and Glasgow (currently 5)
  • electrified (and 10 mins faster) Dunblane/Falkirk/Edinburgh service
  • electrified (and 10 mins faster) Alloa/Stirling/Glasgow service
  • electrified (and 5 mins faster) Cumbernauld/Glasgow service
  • 60,000 fewer tons of carbon in our atmosphere per annum
  • New, faster, smoother Class 380 electric trains
  • Even more competitive alternative to fighting appalling M8/M80 traffic

A good start to the work has already been done by opening the electrified Edinburgh/ Bathgate/Airdrie/Glasgow/Helensburgh service. That the only electrified line between our major cities previously was indirect and only served out-of-the-way places like Kirknewton and Carstairs was a nonsense. That line was only in place to allow electric train access to/from England but will nonetheless have an improved local service by 2013, with Cumbernauld getting electric service the following year. There will even be a tram/airport/rail interchange at Gogar, should TIE ever get their act together.

But 2016 will see the real advantage when electrification the main Glasgow/Dunblane/ Edinburgh triangle is completed. All stations in that area will see faster, more frequent services to/from city centres; trains that are more comfortable, less crowded. The ability to travel faster and easier will shift people from cars to rail. Unlike the M74 spend which largely benefitted car commuters in South Lanarkshire, EGIP will spread its benefits across three quarters of the Scottish population because even places like my own North Berwick will benefit on journeys beyond Waverley. We’ll join the 21st century at last.

Whether the bus companies will stop inhabiting other dimensions and behave like a partner, instead of an enemy, is not clear—but they need to.

Faster/Longer/Better: Class 380 Trains Up to 8 Cars Long (present Class 170 Turbostars only 6 max)

About davidsberry

Local councillor, tour guide and database designer. Keen on wildlife, history, boats and music. Stood for the Scottish Parliament 2011; lost by 151 votes.
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4 Responses to EGIP: Closer Than You Think

  1. Adrian Morgan says:

    David, are you saying that EGIP is so far advanced that Edinburgh-Falkirk-Glasgow will be up and running by 2013? That is only two years to wire nearly 50 miles of route. If so, good news.
    We are having a battle down here in North Yorkshire about gross peak overcrowding on the Leeds-Harrogate-York route due to lack of diesel units. The battle is that Harrogate Chamber of Trade want to electrify to 3rd rail with 40 year old redundant London Underground trains!! I am, with others, challenging this proposal and want standard compatible 25Kv electrification as is at Leeds and York. The argument is that there is unlikely to be sufficient surplus stock until 2018 to ease the problem whereas Tube stock will be available in 2014.
    We are claiming that there will be five cascaded 322 units to Leeds this year (releasing diesels under the wires) and more diesel units available when EGIP is complete.
    Am I correct in assuming 156/158/170 units will be surplus to Scotrail requirements then, from 2013 onwards?
    I have just sampled the fantastic Bathgate-Airdrie line whilst visiting my son in Edinburgh. Very similar to Harrogate-Leeds in curvature, gradient and station spacing. That is what we want down here.
    One final question. Not having tried the 380s yet, are they suitable as 170 replacements in standard of seating and comfort on EG.

  2. davidsberry says:

    Thanks for your knowledgeable comments but I think you my have misread the piece. The currently electrified EDI-Carstairs-GLA link will get improved services by 2013 but the Dunblane “triangle” covering the main EDI-GLA service via Falkirk won’t be wired until 2016.
    I don’t know what ScotRail’s plans are for the 156/158s but they are in use on the Fife Circle and sundry other local lines and therefore likely to remain so. They must be close to scrappage.
    As for the 170s, the 380s are more comfortable and spacious than their predecessors but clearly are commuter, as opposed to express/distance, trains. Even tho’ they run Waverley-Helensburgh, they take a couple of hours and no-one travels end to end. So I expect the 170s to continue on the Aberdeen and Inverness services and may appear on the Stranraer or North Lines if they are replaced on the EGIP lines.
    Good luck battling Harrogate CoC; they don’t seem to be thinking long-term.

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