Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Scottish - Bathgate review 1


23/8/08 Edinburgh Park to Bathgate

Cost of ticket: £5 day return

Dept: Edinburgh Park 18.16  Arrive: Bathgate 18.57

Distance: 14 miles  Weather: cloudy

Traction: Class 155 Turbostar 2-car DMU

Train Operating Company: First ScotRail

Frequency of trains: half hourly


The train leaves Edinburgh Waverley and then goes through a couple of tunnels before emerging at Haymarket, which is one of those busy suburban stations like East Croydon and Barking, which carries most of the same traffic from the mainline station. It has four platforms and is constantly busy for most of the day. After Haymarket the train passes Haymarket depot on the right and then Murrayfield Rugby stadium. The line to Carlisle moves off to the left and shortly afterwards the line to Dundee moves off on the right. We then come into Edinburgh Park station, which is a newly built station to cater for the new out of town shops and office developments in this area. Like Ashford its all concrete and glass with no character and soul. Bathgate trains stop here but most Glasgow Queen Street ones rush through. We move off and pass under the M90 motorway and pass a scrap yard on the left, before entering a cutting and emerge into the countryside with wheat fields on both sides. Further in the distance on the right can be seen Edinburgh Airport which may soon have its own branch.  Soon after we leave the line for Glasgow and Stirling on our right, which goes over a viaduct. On the left in the distance we can see the Pentland Hills south of Edinburgh. We pass more wheat fields and then a forest on our left. But on our right in the distance looks like Scotland's answer to Ayer's Rock, the large red outcrop in the middle of Australia. It is in fact a large shale spoil heap left over from the days when this region was the world's most important oil shale production region. The M9 comes alongside us on the right for a short while, whilst on the left are open fields. We then stop for several minutes as we wait for the outgoing train to vacate the single line ahead. When we arrive at Uphall station, it is in the process of being rebuilt, so there is only one platform is in use due to the single track. It has just the basic bus stop. We move away and see the M9 once again on the right and a large factory on the left and it isn't long before we are approaching Livingston, one of Scotland's new towns and famous as being the centre for Sky TV's customer operations. The station at Livingston North is identical to that of Uphall's with a single shelter and on the other side is a similar mess of building work going on. Quite a few passengers get off here, though the train is still quite full. There's plenty of new housing on both sides of the track and then car storage yards on the right and plenty of factory buildings, reflecting the investment made by the government into this region during the 80's and 90's. There are also lots of old coal spoil heaps on the right, before we enter a small cutting and emerge into the countryside for a short time. But the site of a Tescos and more car storage yards indicates that we are approaching Bathgate. The station is a single platform open to the car park and bus stops outside, with a single shelter. Although it's the end of the line at the moment, work is underway to extend the line across to the Glasgow suburbs and the terminus of Drumgelloch.

Summary: A busy suburban commuter branch line, which will one day be the most direct line between Glasgow and Edinburgh, destined to be very busy.  MC