Direct weekday services resume on West Coast mainline

Direct weekday services between Glasgow and Carlisle will resume on Monday (April 24) following completion of the latest phase of the £164m project to upgrade Carstairs junction on the West Coast mainline (WCML).

As part of the Scottish Government-funded investment, engineers have been working to simplify and upgrade the track layout – clearing bottlenecks and making the junction more reliable.

Overhead power infrastructure and signalling systems have also been replaced or renewed during the project.

Since the closure of the line at the start of March, engineers have:

  • installed 7km of track and laid more than 10,000 new sleepers.
  • Installed 135 new overhead line structures and renewed 22km of wiring
  • Run out 75km of new signalling cables.

During the final phase of the modernisation works, which will take place between now and early June, the WCML section of the junction will continue to close on weekends.

Track work at Carstairs
Track work at Carstairs

With more weekday services on the key cross-border route restored, work now focusses on further signalling and overhead wire renewals on sections of track towards Glasgow and Edinburgh and on work to remodel Carstairs station’s platforms ahead of it reopening on Tuesday, May 30 - when ScotRail services will resume.

The closure of Carstairs junction affects cross-border train operators including Avanti West Coast, Caledonian Sleeper, CrossCountry and TransPennine Express, who have been operating via diversionary routes or offering alternative journey options during these vital improvements.

Carstairs junction work aerial
Carstairs junction work aerial

Jim McCleary, Network Rail programme manager for the Carstairs junction remodelling project, said: “The reintroduction of direct services between Glasgow and Carlisle is fantastic news for passengers.

“Carstairs junction was coming to the end of its operational lifespan and this crucial upgrade work will improve the reliability of this strategically important infrastructure – providing improved journeys for passengers and more capacity for freight.

Carstairs junction work - gantry lift
Carstairs junction work - gantry lift

“The project is progressing well and we look forward to completing our work and fully reopening the line for customers in June.”

Barry Milsom, Executive Director of Operations and Safety at Avanti West Coast, said: “We’re pleased to welcome the return of our normal weekday timetable on our Glasgow and Edinburgh routes following the completion of the second phase of Network Rail’s upgrade work.

We’d like to thank customers for their patience and understanding over the last seven weeks and remind them our weekend services will still be impacted, as the third and final phase of the Carstairs Modernisation Project is completed.

With no direct trains to or from Scotland on Saturdays and Sundays until early June, we strongly advise customers plan their journey, as well as visit the Avanti West Coast website for the latest updates.”

Passengers planning to travel on weekends between now and Sunday June 4 – including on the extended bank holiday weekends in May – are advised to check their journey at or with their train operator.


Carstairs Junction sits 26 miles to the south-east of Glasgow on the West Coast mainline.

The upgrade works were required as the junction needed regular maintenance as the infrastructure through the area was reaching the end of its operational lifespan.

The layout of the junction was no longer suited to today’s pattern and volume of service with 200+ trains passing through the junction on an average midweek day.

During the first phase of the project – from Saturday March 4 to Sunday March 19 - there were no direct services to Glasgow Central or Edinburgh on the West Coast mainline through Carstairs.

Phase two of the work, took place between Monday March 20 and Friday April 21 with part of the junction re-opened to allow some trains to run directly to Edinburgh – and via diversion routes to Glasgow – on weekdays, with longer than normal journey times.

The final phase, between Saturday April 22 and Sunday June 4, will see most services return to normal during weekdays. The junction will be fully closed each weekend (including the extended bank holiday weekends in May) with no direct services between Glasgow Central or Edinburgh and Carlisle on the West Coast mainline.

The closure of the junction affects cross-border operators including, Avanti West Coast, Caledonian Sleeper, CrossCountry and TransPennine Express and London North Eastern Railways, who have been operating via diversionary routes or offering alternative journey options.

LNER will not run its once-a-day service to/from Glasgow Central during the planned engineering works, otherwise LNER services on the East Coast Main Line remain unaffected by the engineering works at Carstairs.

There will be no ScotRail services to or from Carstairs for the full three-month period. ScotRail will run a range of alternative journey options throughout with Carstairs station re-opening on Tuesday May 30.