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Scotland gets £4bn rail upgrade plan

Scotland’s railways are in for a £4 billion overhaul under plans launched by transport minister Keith Brown.

The Scottish government’s high level output specification for rail for the 2014-19 period includes more than £3bn of major infrastructure investment, and £1bn for smaller improvements to the network.

Scotrail’s franchise expires in 2014 after which a new franchise will be let for 10 years.

Mr Brown said this was seen as a way to encourage investment. A separate 15-year franchise will be let for sleeper services.

Mr Brown said: “I’m determined to see a 21st century rail service for Scotland.”

Over the 2014-19 period Network Rail will be required to oversee:

  • delivery of the Edinburgh-to-Glasgow Improvements Programme;
  • completion of restoration of the Borders Railway;
  • the first phase of improvements to  the Aberdeen-to-Inverness corridor;
  • phase two of improvements to the Highland Main Line;
  • a rolling programme of electrification for 100 km of track a year;
  • investment in stations, freight capacity and further network improvements.

The Aberdeen-to-Inverness project is valued at some £250-300m and is due to be completed in phases between 2015 and 2030, providing a faster service and new stations at Kintore and Dalcross.

At a similar value, the Highland Main Line improvements project is expected to require new passing loops and improvements to track, bridges and tunnels to bring a more frequent service between Perth and Inverness.  

The Borders Railway is being restored between Edinburgh and Tweedbank and might then be extended to Carlisle.

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