Over 200 engineers to work 24/7 on £164m rail project

Network Rail

ENGINEERS are set to deliver a ‘vital’ programme of works in the £164 million overhaul of the west coast main line.

It will see the rail route close for 16 days in March to allow Network Rail engineers to deliver work to Carstairs Junction – which sits 26 miles to the south east of Glasgow – in the first phase of a three-month programme of work.

It forms part of the £164 million Scottish Government investment which will see the modernisation of the ‘key’ junction for passenger and freight services. It will also see the creation of Scotland’s largest freight loop, capable of accommodating 775m-long freight trains to help more businesses move goods off the road and onto rail to help achieve the Government’s net zero targets.

Over 200 engineers will work 24/7 to upgrade the junction, with enabling works for the project being underway since 2020. The engineers will simplify and upgrade the track-layout to clear an existing bottleneck on the network, making it more reliable and able to better cope with passenger and freight demands.

Network Rail said that work on the route will be ‘complex’, with it being completed in three phases designed to manage the effect on services in the least disruptive way.

During the first phase of the project – between Saturday March 4 and Sunday March 19, there will be no direct services to Glasgow Central and Edinburgh on the West Coast main line through Carstairs.

Phase two of the work, taking place between Monday March 20 and Friday April 21, will see part of the junction re-opening, allowing some trains to run directly to Edinburgh – and via diversion routes to Glasgow – on weekdays, however, journey times will be longer than normal.

The final phase, between Saturday April 22 and Sunday June 4, will see most services return to normal during weekdays with the junction fully closed each weekend.

During the later phases of the project, there will be no direct services between Glasgow Central or Edinburgh and Carlisle on the West Coast main line each weekend.

Liam Sumpter, route director at Network Rail Scotland, said, “Carstairs Junction is coming to the end of its life cycle and with the volume of freight and passenger trains passing through each week it’s important that we modernise this part of the network.

“By completing this crucial upgrade work we will improve the capabilities and reliability of this strategically important junction, providing better future journeys for passengers and more capacity for freight.

“There’s never a good time to close such an important line but this is a huge and extremely complex piece of work that will safeguard the future of the route for years to come.

“We appreciate that this will cause some inconvenience and would like to thank customers for their patience during this time.”