£7m improvement project completed on West Highland Line
Network Rail engineers have completed a £7 million project to improve the West Highland Line as new images have been released showing further progress on the new Inverness Airport station.
Over the course of nine days, engineering teams worked round-the-clock to replace more than 3.5km of track at locations between Upper Tyndrum and Spean Bridge.
Engineers also carried out works to improve drainage and track over the Nevis Viaduct which support the implementation of a new track design.
While the work was taking place, staff were transported to the remote work sites by rail from Bridge of Orchy which helped ensure the project was finished on schedule.
Liam Sumpter, Network Rail route director for Scotland, said: “This investment programme is vital for the future of Scotland’s railway.
“The work we have completed helps to provide a more modern railway and will help to improve reliability on the West Highland Line – which is visited by many thanks to its iconic scenery.
“We understand some customers may have experienced some inconvenience while the work was carried out.
“But such a significant investment could not be delivered without temporary disruption and every effort was made to reduce the impact of our activities as much as possible.
“I’d like to thank all passengers and lineside neighbours for their patience and understanding while we completed this essential work.”
Network Rail has also welcomed progress on the new Inverness Airport station.
Since starting work in October 2021 the new £14m station at Inverness Airport has seen extensive site clearance, the creation of embankments and the installation of the foundations for what will be, one of the new platforms and the footbridge and lifts at the site adjacent to the airport.
The next phase of work will see work to create the new platforms continue and the start of work on the lift shafts. It will also see sleepers laid for the creation of a passing-loop through the station.
The station will have 64 car parking spaces with 10 electric charging facilities, four disabled spaces and cycle parking. There will be a new access road to the station for motorists and access to both platforms for pedestrians and cyclists.
Inverness Airport will deliver improved travel links to the growing Inverness Airport Business Park and the new town of Tornagrain. This is particularly important as we continue to pursue a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The project will deliver a two-platform station on the Aberdeen-Inverness line with step-free access, via a footbridge with lifts. Work also includes creation of a passing-loop and the closure of Petty Level crossing.
The development also comes with the advantage of closing the level crossing at Petty which will improve the safety of the line and the operation of the new station, which is due for completion in December 2022.
David Millar, project manager for Network Rail, said: “The delivery of work on Inverness Airport Station continues to gather momentum and the recent good early spring weather allowed us to make good progress on all aspects of the work.
“Once complete, the station will enhance the local area and improve connectivity for local residents and the wider Inverness area by providing a new sustainable transport interchange.
“We will continue to work with our partners to deliver this new station as quickly as possible for our customers and the wider community.”
Work has also started on re-decking the railway bridge on Nithsdale Road as part of the Barrhead electrification project.
This work is a key phase within the Barrhead electrification project and part of wider plans to decarbonise passenger services on Scotland’s railway by 2035.
The bridge must be raised and re-decked to create the room required to erect overhead powerlines beneath the structure.
The nearby footbridge between Moray Place and Darnley Road also needs to be replaced as part of the electrification works.
A lane and footpath closure will be in place until 20 January 2023, and a road closure at the entrance of Moray Place until 20 January 2023.
Nithsdale Road bridge will be closed to traffic from 2 May 2022 until 10 January 2023.
The footbridge between Moray Place and Darnley Road will be closed between 7 July 2022 and 15 July 2022. The existing footbridge will be replaced with a new footbridge in 2023.
Rachael Melody, Network Rail senior sponsor, said: “This work is an essential part of the electrification programme that will create a more reliable and greener railway for our passengers and lineside neighbours.
“The lane closures will allow us to complete the works safely and efficiently, and while some disruption to access is expected, we fully appreciate the patience and support of the community during this time.”