Shirley Mushet, the Engineering co-ordination Manager of Transport Initiatives Edinburgh at the June meeting in Edinburgh"
© John G. Fender 2011
Shirley Mushet, the Engineering co-ordination Manager of Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) addressed the final meeting of the 2005 - 2006 session on the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (EARL). The presentation began with a brief outline of the company, TIE, wholly owned by Edinburgh City Council.
The company is responsible for a number of projects including EARL and the Edinburgh Tram. The company is also the promoter of the bill for EARL that is currently going through the Scottish Parliament.
The project has been developed as passenger usage of Edinburgh Airport has increased by 36% between 2000 and 2003 and passenger growth is predicted to grow from 8 million passengers per annum in 2004 to between 21 and 23 million passengers annually by 2030. EARL is designed to connect Edinburgh Airport to Scotland's national railway network and to increase the number of passengers to the airport using public transport.
The Edinburgh Airport Rail Link proposal is for the construction of a railway station at Edinburgh Airport with rail connections to the existing Glasgow - Edinburgh rail line at Winchburgh Junction and at a new grade separated junction at Roddinglaw and also connecting to the Fife and North East line at new junctions at Gogar and to the south of Dalmeny. The new station at the airport will be a sustainable building and the railway will be in tunnel as it passes through the airport and under the runways. The tunnels will be constructed using both cut and cover and a tunnel boring machine.
The audience was given a flythrough over the proposed routes, as Shirley Mushet explained the selection of the chosen option and the extensive consultation that has taken place with stakeholders. She also highlighted key features on the route and pointed out various areas of interest in the project, including the grade separated. There are 22 bridge structures on the route along with 7 junctions and 1.6 miles of tunnel.
The proposals envisage that the airport will be served by two trains per hour in each direction between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley via Falkirk; one train per hour in each direction between Aberdeen and Edinburgh Waverley; to trains per hour in each direction between Dunblane and Newcraighall, via Stirling and Edinburgh Waverley; one train per hour in each direction between Perth and Edinburgh Waverley and two trains per hour in each direction between the Fife Circle and Edinburgh Waverley. Journey times will not be significantly increased, as more powerful trains will be used.
The ground conditions pose a number of challenges and work is underway to identify any major problems. Examples of the difficulties faced are the proximity of the Rover Almond, Gogar burn and old shale oil min workings in the area. There is also a scheduled ancient monument, the CAT Stone and any work affecting this will require a special licence from Historic Scotland. There are also problems with the proximity of the airports Instrument Landing System (ILS) and work can only be undertaken when aircraft are not operating. Test drilling has revealed that the area has soft waterlogged soils on a layer of boulder clay. There are also large boulders throughout the ground and these can pose difficulties to the tunnel boring machine that will be used.
Currently the Scottish Parliament is considering the bill, introduced on 16 March 2006, that will enable the project to go ahead. There has been extensive consultation with the general public, landowners, residents, Transport Scotland, politicians and passenger groups on the proposals and detailed proposals on how the project will be implemented. During the public consultation it was found that some 83% of people supported the introduction of EARL, 84% said it was a necessity, 68% supported the proposed route and 83% felt that Scotland as a whole would benefit from the project.
It is anticipated that Royal Assent will be received in May 2007 and construction work will commence in April 2008. This will be completed in 2011 when the route will be opened. The estimated cost of the scheme is between £550 and £650 million. There has been support for the scheme from Scotland's business community and tourism industry. Following the presentation there was an lengthy question and answer session with many points being put to both Shirley Mushet and her colleague, Alan Sommerville and the evening was concluded with a vote of thanks from the Chairman.
The Scottish Region would like to than both Shirley Mushet and Alan Sommerville of TIE for taking the time to provide members with a detailed insight into the project. Full details can be found on the EARL project website at www.earlproject.com and further information on TIE's work at www.tie.ltd.uk
Report by John Fender.
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