Published: 22/04/2018 19:00 - Updated: 20/04/2018 13:35

Trains south from city set to be faster

Written byNeil MacPhail

A £10 million contract has been awarded to improve passenger train services between Inverness and the central belt.

Network Rail has awarded Bam Nuttall a contract for upgrade works to the Highland mainline and help reduce journey times for customers.

Journey times could be cut by 10 minutes, it is hoped.

The contract is part of an overall £57 million Scottish Government-funded investment in the historic line, that is sorely in need of more places where two trains can meet and pass each other.

It will involve extending platforms 1 and 2 at Pitlochry Station and carrying out modifications to extend the track layout.

Infrastructure works will also be carried out at Aviemore station – extending the section of double-track to the north of the station.

In addition, signalling systems at Pitlochry and Aviemore will also be altered and upgraded as part of the overall project.

These works will enable ScotRail’s longer InterCity trains (HSTs), which will start to be introduced on the route later this year, to pass each other more efficiently at both stations.

The work will help deliver an hourly service, with average journey times reduced by around 10 minutes. It will also enable potential improvements to the times of the first and last trains between Inverness and the central belt and to provide a better distribution of calls at the intermediate stations between Perth and Inverness.

This is the second phase of investment in the Highland mainline. In 2012, the initial phase of the project increased the number of services from nine to 11 trains per day in each direction.

Humza Yousaf, Minister for Transport and the Islands, said: "The awarding of the Highland mainline works contact is an important milestone in the progress of the project, which is on track to complete in little over a year.

"The works planned to take place at Aviemore and Pitlochry allow for far more efficient crossing of trains, which along with the soon-to-be-introduced HSTs and infrastructure enhancements, will deliver faster more frequent journeys between Inverness and the Central Belt."

Matthew Spence, for Network Rail, said: "This work is vital to the introduction of InterCity trains on the line and the improved timetable that will deliver more services, improve stopping patterns and provide better connectivity for customers.

"We will work closely with our contractors, train operators and other partners to deliver in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible."

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