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Edinburgh-Glasgow Rail Project - Midlothian plays a part

19th July 2018

The Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) aims to run faster electric trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow that are two coaches longer than the current service. But as well as the works in the public domain [such as the platform lengthening at Waverley] there are important actions happening out of the public gaze. One that is not visible to passengers is the Millerhill depot in Midlothian.

Initially, the depot will service a small number of trains. However, when fully operational, it will become one of ScotRail’s main stabling points, with many of its 70 new class 385 Hitachi EMUs serviced there overnight. At the depot, trains will be washed, cleaned, toilet tanks emptied, sanders filled, and screen washers topped up and there are also facilities for maintenance staff who may be called to the depot to repair minor faults.

Class 385
Millerhill Depot has been in railway use since Scotland’s largest marshalling yard opened there in 1962. This had around a hundred sidings and, at its peak, handled 4,000 wagons a day, both from the Midlothian coalfields and for freight trains over the Waverley route to Carlisle, which passed through the yard and closed in 1969.

With the reduction in wagonload traffic, the west-side yard closed in 1983. As the remaining facility handled ever-decreasing freight traffic, some of its sidings were mothballed with the remainder becoming an engineer’s yard and a freight locomotive servicing and fuelling point.

The main line through the depot is electrified and leaves the new Borders Railway just south of Newcraighall station and connects with the East Coast main line at Monktonhall via a line built when the marshalling yard first opened.

Planning permission was granted for the new depot in April 2013. However, this was for the construction of a heavy maintenance depot to maintain the electric trains that had yet to be procured by the still-to-be-announced holder of the new ScotRail franchise – due to be awarded in October 2014. Plans for the depot needed to be well advanced, even though no-one knew the identity of the manufacturer or where they would be maintained.

As it turned out, the franchise was awarded to Abellio which bought its new trains for general ScotRail services from Hitachi. These have many similarities to LNER’s Class 800/801 IEP trains already earmarked for Craigentinny Depot.

As LNER and Abellio both have Hitachi trains, it made sense to maintain both classes of train at Craigentinny Depot, so a maintenance depot at Millerhill was no longer needed.

Millerhill has subsequently been repurposed as a servicing facility to stable the trains to be used on EGIP.
Seven 305-metre-long roads can accommodate 12-car units. Each has a 276-metre-long platform on one side with water and power points. On the other side, each road, except for number 3, has an apron with controlled emission toilet (CET) emptying stations.

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