A NEW electrified rail service is now running to Paisley Canal station after a multi-million pound uprgrade.

Transport Minister Keith Brown marked the opening, allowing the first services to run at the station, and said the work was delivered early and under budget.

The upgrade of five miles of track from Corkerhill in Glasgow to Paisley allows new quieter and more environmentally friendly trains on the route.

The project cost £12million, less than half the original estimate of £28m, after changes to some of the construction projects along the route.

Network Rail and ScotRail collaborated on the work, which resulted in it being done quicker and cheaper.

ScotRail also surrendered its right to claim 'disruption compensation' payments to bring down costs and by giving more time for evening and weekend working.

Mr Brown said: "The Paisley Canal Electrification is the first major project to be delivered under this kind of alliance arrangement and Network Rail and ScotRail have done a fantastic job in showing how industry partners can work together to bring these schemes in within set timescales and budgets.

"Passengers will now directly see the benefits of this scheme with better reliability, reduced emissions and more seats.

"I am incredibly proud to be involved as the first services get under way."

The changes mean trains carrying more passengers will operate on the route, which are expected to be more reliable.

Work on the route took four months from August with both organis- ations crediting the collaboration as key.

By carrying out the work to allow for the tran- sit of passenger trains and not larger freight trains meant fewer bridges had to be raised, saving time and money.

On the few occasions when freight trains want to use the route at night, they can by switching off the electrics on 'neutral' sections.

Network Rail route managing director for Scotland David Simpson said: "The success- ful on-time completion of this scheme dem- onstrates how, by working closely, the rail industry can enhance the service it provides the public while cutting the cost of projects.

"Delivering a project of this size in just four months is a significant achievement for all involved and one that will have real benefits for those using the line and those living alongside it."

Steve Montgomery, managing director of ScotRail, said: "Paisley Canal is the new benchmark for collaborative railway projects.

"We need this flexibility and commitment to become the norm to ensure that we continue to offer the best combination of services, facilities and value for money for customers."

stewart.paterson@ heraldandtimes.co.uk