Plan to relieve Edinburgh western approaches: Transport Scotland revives project for Almond Chord

SCOTTISH Transport Secretary Michael Matheson has approved a £15million preliminary project to prepare for the construction of a new chord to the Dalmeny to Winchburgh Junction line, west of Edinburgh.

The scheme will enable Transport Scotland and Network Rail to develop three options for the Edinburgh Waverley Western Approaches (EWWA) project, which is designed to relieve the congested Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk High route. 

The scheme is costed at between £150million and £250m, and will involve a new south-to-west connection between Saughton (Almond Junction), on the Edinburgh to Dalmeny line and the Dalmeny to Winchburgh Junction line. 

The three options involve flat junctions at both ends, a grade-separated Almond Junction and flat junction at Winchburgh, and grade-separated junction at both ends of the upgraded line. 

Transport Scotland has authorised a £15million study into the construction of a new chord between the Edinburgh to Fife and Dalmeny to Winchburgh Junction lines, known as the Almond Chord. If built, the connection would provide extra capacity and resilience on the western approaches to Edinburgh, one of the busiest parts of Scotland’s rail network. CHRIS MILNER

Detailed modelling of the options will now take place, and a business case for the preferred option will be developed. 

The chord was previously proposed as part of the £858m Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme, which upgraded and electrified the main route between Scotland’s two largest cities, but was dropped on cost grounds in 2012. 

The western approach to Edinburgh Waverley is a critical location on the Scottish rail network and one of the country’s busiest. 

Late-running trains can cause significant delays to other services and often a knock-on impact throughout the wider network. Adding the Almond Chord could provide an alternative route for east-west trains, giving extra capacity and resilience to improve performance.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are working closely with Transport Scotland to develop cost-effective proposals to expand the network to the west of Edinburgh – delivering increased flexibility and improved reliability for passengers and freight customers.”

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