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Celebrations mark 20th anniversary of reopening of Edinburgh to Bathgate line


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First ScotRail

Celebrations mark 20th anniversary of reopening of Edinburgh to Bathgate line
_______________________________________________________________


date
24 March 2006
source First ScotRail
type Press release



20th anniversary Edinburgh to Bathgate opening

Celebrations took place today at Bathgate Station as distinguished guests gathered together to mark the 20th anniversary of the re-opening of the railway line between Edinburgh and Bathgate.

Guests from First ScotRail, West Lothian Council and Bathgate's Bennie Museum were in attendance, celebrating the improvements that had been made to the route since it re-opened in 1986. Also in attendance was Pauline Cumming, widow of Councillor Joe Cumming, who unveiled the original train nameplate in 1996, celebrating 10 years of the line opening.

To mark the occasion, Alister MacLennan, retail manager at First ScotRail, presented the nameplate to Councillor Carol Bartholomew. The nameplate, which reads 'Edinburgh to Bathgate 1986 - 1996' will then be handed over to the Bennie Museum in Bathgate where it will be displayed alongside information on the history of the line.

Since opening, several service and customer developments have been introduced, bringing a range of improvements. These include;
* 1987: Evening services introduced to the timetable
* 1988: Sunday services introduced to the timetable
* 1998: Half hourly services to and from Edinburgh during the day
* 1999: 24 hour online CCTV installed
* 2000: Bus link from Livingston North to Kirkton campus
* 2002: Line extension to Newcraighall
* 2003: Opening of Edinburgh Park station, increasing commuter opportunities
* 2004: Introduction of Customer Information Systems and extension of platforms
* 2005: Class 170 trains used on line, extension of car parks at all stations along the route

In 2006, First ScotRail is introducing a number of further station improvements for the benefit of customers.

Alister MacLennan said, "It is important to celebrate events such as this which allows us to see how far we have come in terms of rail travel and accessibility over the last twenty years. The Edinburgh - Bathgate line is well used by commuters and leisure travellers alike and we are encouraged to see this.

"First ScotRail continually looks at where improvements can be made and 2006 will see better facilities introduced for customers."

Councillor Carol Bartholomew, transport spokesperson for West Lothian Council, added, "We are delighted at the success of the Edinburgh-Bathgate railway line which has exceeded all expectations and welcome the investment in new trains and improved frequency.

"We continue to work closely with the rail operators and the platform extensions, additional car parking and better bus links have all helped to encourage more people to take the train. We look forward to the extension of the line to Airdrie and the additional benefits this will bring to West Lothian travellers."

ENDS
Notes to Editors

1. The First ScotRail franchise officially commenced at 2am on Sunday, 17 October 2004.

2. First ScotRail is investing £40 million in improving rail journeys for passengers. It is committed to increasing quality and capacity on key services, delivering an enhanced maintenance programme to improve service reliability, improving passenger information through increased provision of CCTV and passenger information systems and improving revenue protection with new ticket inspectors and additional ticket purchasing opportunities.

3. The Scottish franchise is one of the largest in the UK with more than 3,000 kilometres of track, 69 million passenger journeys a year and 340 stations.

4. FirstGroup plc is a UK based international transport company with a turnover of £2.7 billion a year, and some 67,000 employees throughout the UK and North America. First is a major force in UK railways, operating First Great Western, First Great Western Link and First TransPennine Express. The group also operates Hull Trains and GB Railfreight.


Media enquiries:
Lally Wilks, Press and Communications Executive on 0141 335 4788.
www.firstscotrail.com


NOTES TO EDITORS:

First ScotRail – Key First Year Achievements

- The company has recorded its strongest customer satisfaction figures in terms of punctuality and reliability for the last five years, according to Strategic Rail Authority National Rail Trends.

- Twenty per cent reduction in delays caused by First ScotRail, compared to a franchise commitment of 2 per cent.

- Introduced £15 flat fare return ticket. Offer period runs until 31 October. Vouchers can be collected on trains, or emailed to customers. Offer not available before 0900, or on services departing from Glasgow, Edinburgh. Aberdeen and Inverness between 1600 and 1800hrs.

- Launched £20 million investment programme to make stations across Scotland more comfortable and welcoming for passengers.

- Opened a Customer Contact Centre in Fort William, creating 50 new jobs, and handling 300,000 enquiries every year.

- Launched JourneyCheck, the UK’s first integrated train information service. Includes facility for customers to receive warning text and/or email messages if rail services may be disrupted, allowing alternative travel arrangements to be made.

- Improved passenger safety, with more CCTV, customer information systems at platforms, and better lighting in station car parks.

- Installed cycle storage racks at almost every station in Scotland.

- Expanded Dunfermline Customer Service centre, now monitoring 51 stations and their car parks using 883 CCTV cameras. Also supports 97 passenger ‘Help Points’ at stations across Scotland.

- Signed up to new Scotland-wide Customer Service Quality initiative (SQUIRE) to have cleaner stations and trains, better information and facilities.

- Significantly improved reliability of the train fleet. Delays caused by the fleet at their lowest level for five years.

- Investing £1 million to upgrade Caledonian Sleeper trains. There has been a 19 per cent reduction in delays on Sleeper services over last 12 months.

- Employed an extra 400 staff, and investing £1 million every year in their training and development.

- Teamed with Capability Scotland to train staff on assisting customers with mobility impairments or other special needs.

- Launched an ‘Adopt a Station’ scheme, allowing communities to suggest ideas to improve the environment of their local station.

BACKGROUND

- The Scottish franchise is one of the largest in the UK with more than 3,000 kilometres of track, 69 million passenger journeys a year, and 337 stations.

- FirstGroup plc is a UK based international transport company with a turnover of £2.7 billion a year, and some 67,000 employees throughout the UK and North America. First is a major force in UK railways, operating First Great Western, First Great Western Link and First TransPennine Express. The group also operates Hull Trains and GB Railfreight.


Railhub Archive ::: 2006-03-24 FSC_001





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