A TROUBLED scheme to cut journey times on Scotland’s busiest rail route has soared by more than £110 million.
We can reveal the estimated cost of the plan to cut 10 minutes off the train trip between Edinburgh and Glasgow has climbed from £742m to £858m.
The price hike comes as passengers are already waiting longer for plans to increase the number of seats and increase the frequency of services because of a string of delays to the revamp of Scotland’s busiest rail line.
Rail regulators described the cost increase as “deeply concerning” and revealed they have launched a probe into the delays and budget overruns on the Transport Scotland electrification project.
The Office of Rail and Road said: “The ORR can confirm the latest estimated figure received from Network Rail for Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) is £858 million.
“This increase in cost, aligned with Network Rail’s delay in delivering EGIP is deeply concerning.
“We will publish a lessons learned summary report later this year focusing on the electrification of the Edinburgh to Glasgow line and the underlying causes behind cost increases and programme delays.”
The Scottish Government have blamed management “weaknesses” by Network Rail for the increase but the track operator insisted it will deliver the scheme as quickly as possible.
Scottish Labour’s transport spokesman Colin Smyth said: “Scotland’s hard pressed passengers are already paying ever increasing fares for trains that are delayed, overcrowded or can’t even be guaranteed to stop at the stations they are supposed to. We have trains running late before they have even been built. Passengers deserve better and Transport Minister Humza Yousaf needs to get a grip.”
The Scottish Government refused to reveal the current price for the EGIP but Network Rail and the ORR – the independent safety and economic regulator for railways – both confirmed the scheme now stands at £858.6m. This is an increase from the last estimate of £742m and up from the budgeted £650m in 2012.
Rail industry insiders say some of the increased costs are down to changes demanded by Transport Scotland but also the cost of making changes where the route’s overhead wires and railway bridges were too low to meet safety standards. Originally scheduled to be complete by last year the EGIP scheme has faced a number of delays with both Network Rail and the ORR consistently raising doubts about the delivery of a 42-minute journey time, with eight-car services, between Edinburgh and Glasgow by December this year.
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