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CELEBRATIONS MARK 20th ANNIVERSARY OF REOPENING OF Edinburgh TO BATHGATE LINE

CELEBRATIONS MARK 20th ANNIVERSARY OF REOPENING OF Edinburgh TO BATHGATE LINE

24 March 2006

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CELEBRATIONS MARK 20th ANNIVERSARY OF REOPENING OF EDINBURGH TO BATHGATE LINE

24 March 2006

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