Network Rail has begun work on a major £170m enhancement of the railway linking Glasgow to the Clyde coast and Ayrshire.
The Paisley Corridor Improvements (PCI) project will upgrade the track and signalling on the busy rail corridor between Shields junction in Glasgow and Paisley Gilmour St station.
Once complete, the project will improve capacity on the route and allow for increased levels of service between Glasgow and Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde.
An important route for commuters and freight traffic, the Paisley corridor will be three-tracked and have a new signalling system installed over the next 12 months. The final stretch of the line from Arkleston to Gilmour St will be upgraded to four tracks for even greater flexibility.
The works are being funded by Transport Scotland and Network Rail and previous phases of the project have already delivered two new platforms at Glasgow Central station and a new freight loop at Elderslie.
Ron McAulay, Network Rail Director Scotland, said: “The Paisley corridor is one of the busiest passenger and freight routes in Scotland and plays an important role in the economic and social lives of the communities it serves.
“This package of enhancements will improve the railway’s capacity and reliability and have real benefits for businesses and individual passengers alike.
“One of several major projects in the central belt, it demonstrates Network Rail’s commitment to investing in Scotland’s railways and encouraging even more people to travel by train.”
Transport Minister Keith Brown, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to improving rail services which encourages the shift to more sustainable modes of transport.
“This significant investment on infrastructure enhancements forms part of our wider investment on platform extensions, new train depots and stabling facilities which will enhance further the benefits to passengers in the West of Scotland.”
The PCI project is one of several aimed at improving capacity, reliability and journey times currently underway or recently completed in the central belt.
Network Rail and the Scottish Government are also working together to deliver the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) and have recently completed the new Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link project.
The £1bn EGIP project is expected to deliver a range of benefits by 2016 including a fastest journey time of 37 minutes on the main Edinburgh Waverley-Glasgow Queen Street route and increased service levels on all routes between the two cities. EGIP will also see the electrification of 350km of the existing rail network in the central belt, including the main Edinburgh Waverley-Glasgow Queen Street line.
Opened in December 2010, the Airdrie-Bathgate line re-establishes a direct link between east and west which was lost in the 1950s. Completed on time and to budget by Network Rail, the new route allows passengers to travel direct from Helensburgh and Milngavie, in the west, to Bathgate and Edinburgh in the east.