Work will soon begin on a project to lengthen platforms at Edinburgh Waverley for the introduction of new longer, faster, greener trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow and on the East Coast main line.
Network Rail has awarded Carillion the Â£23m contract to deliver the extension works at platforms 5 and 6, to the east of the station, and 12, to the west, as Waverley prepares for Virgin East Coastâ€™s new Azuma trains and ScotRailâ€™s new class-385s.
The enhancements are being delivered as part of the Scottish Governmentâ€™s Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) and the Department for Transport-funded Intercity Express Programme (IEP).
The infrastructure works, and new rolling stock, will help to transform travel on both routes increasing passenger capacity and reducing journey times â€“ by around 10 minutes between Edinburgh and Glasgow and by around 20 minutes between the two capitals.
Preparatory works to clear redundant structures and reposition the escalators at platform 11 will begin in April with main construction work on extending platform 12 due to commence in May, for completion in December 2017.
The extended platforms 5 and 6 will be completed in 2018, while the project will also deliver track remodelling work to allow more trains to use platforms 10 and 11.
Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: â€œThis upgrade of Edinburgh Waverley is part of the wider improvement programme, which will bring real benefits to passengers and maximize the potential of this historic station.
â€œBy extending the platforms, we are paving the way for the introduction of the new, longer, electric train fleet between Edinburgh and Glasgow and on the East Coast main line. The new trains will bring greater capacity to Scotlandâ€™s busiest rail route and cut journey times.
â€œI look forward to the work being delivered with the minimum amount of disruption.â€
UK Government Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: â€œThese improved platforms at Edinburgh Waverley station will enable new Intercity Express Trains to operate, providing more reliable and efficient journeys for passengers while helping to protect our beautiful countryside from pollution.
â€œThis is a great example of the work which is being done across the union to give passengers the improved rail services that they want.â€
Rodger Querns, Network Rail programme director, said: â€œEdinburgh Waverley welcomes nearly 30 million passengers a year and the work we are delivering will help to make sure the station can continue to play a vital role in the economic and social life of the capital.
â€œCompleting such a significant piece of engineering work in the heart of one of the countryâ€™s busiest stations will be a significant challenge for our engineers and contractors and we are committed to carrying out these enhancements as quickly as possible and with the minimum of inconvenience for passengers.â€
Ian McConnell, the ScotRail Allianceâ€™s programmes and transformation director, said: â€œOur new fleet of faster, longer, greener trains will deliver a truly enhanced experience for our customers.
â€œThe 200 new carriages will help to reduce journey times on some routes, are more energy efficient than the current diesel trains and the extra carriages will mean that seating capacity on our busiest routes is greatly increased.â€
David Horne, Virgin Trains managing director on the east coast route, added: â€œThe introduction of our state-of-the-art Azuma fleet will enable us to transform Edinburghâ€™s connectivity, ushering in a new era of comfort and style on cross-border intercity routes.
â€œCustomers will see regular Edinburgh-London journeys accelerated to around four hours and an increase in the number of destinations available directly from Scotland.â€