The first masts for the electrification of the Shotts line have been installed between Holytown Junction and Midcalder Junction in south Scotland.
At a time when electrification sometimes seems under threat due to projects running late and over budget, these new masts mark the beginning of the final stage of a programme to electrify 74km of railway which, when complete, in March 2019, will have created the fourth fully electrified line connecting Edinburgh with Glasgow.
Early stages of the work involved vegetation clearance and piling to prepare foundations for the masts. Various bridges have also been worked on to improve clearances ready for electrification.
The new masts, erected on Sunday 30 July, are the first of 1,200 that will have to be in place before the conductor wires and catenary can be installed. Once the power is switched on, this £160 million Scottish Government programme will result in new Hitachi-built Class 385 trains using the line, increasing capacity and giving passengers a more reliable service.
Network Rail’s programme manager, Brian Mallon, commented: “This first mast going up is an important milestone in the delivery of the Shotts electrification project as people travelling on or living beside the railway will now start to see real, visual progress in the work to upgrade the line.
“Although we still have piled foundations to complete, the way we are working with our contractors Carillion Powerlines has enabled us to start putting the masts up at the same time to deliver in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible while minimising disruption for both lineside communities and passengers.”