New £300m Airdrie-Bathgate rail link reopens

Bathgate train station The new line is expected to boost the local economy

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A £300m rail link has opened that re-establishes passenger services on a line between North Lanarkshire and West Lothian which was closed for 54 years.

The new 15-mile track allows trains to run all the way from the west of Scotland through Glasgow Queen Street to Edinburgh, via Airdrie and Bathgate.

However, Network Rail said the recent severe weather had prevented the completion of three new stations.

They included Armadale, Caldercruix and Drumgelloch.

Scotland's Network Rail director Ron McAulay said the stations would be completed once the weather improved.

He said: "The severe weather has prevented the completion of some minor station works and left the access roads and platform surfaces at some of the new intermediate stations on the route impassable, with up to 3ft of snow blocking access this week."

Despite the setback, he added: "Completing this line in just four years was a major engineering and project management challenge.

Ticket examiners

"To have delivered the railway on time and on budget is a testament to the skill and determination of our team."

The first train is scheduled to leave Bathgate at 0806 GMT, arriving in Airdrie 21 minutes later.

The project has involved stations at Bathgate and Drumgelloch being re-built, with Livingston North and Uphall stations being upgraded.

The original railway between Airdrie and Bathgate closed to passenger trains in 1956 and to freight services in 1982.

Funded by the Scottish government, the line is expected to open up new economic and educational opportunities for those living along the route and offer an alternative for commuters using the M8.

The new service has also been the focus of a dispute between Scotrail and the RMT union, over plans to employ ticket examiners rather than conductors on the new line.

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