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Cycle route converts back to rail

End of the line for part of NCN Route 75

A popular section of the National Cycle Network along a disused railway line closed on Sunday as work got underway to convert it back into a functioning railway line.

The 14 mile route formed the central section of National Cycle Network Route 75 - a cross Scotland route linking the Clyde Coast with the Firth of Forth - established by sustainable transport charity Sustrans. The conversion of the trail back to its original use is part of a £300 million project to restart rail services between Airdrie and Bathgate. 


Network Rail will construct a new path close to the original route, which is scheduled for completion in December 2010.  As a a temporary alternative until the new path is built, Sustrans, the body behind the National Cycle Network is recommending cyclists and walkers use the towpaths of the Union and Forth and Clyde Canals as a cross-Scotland route. The canal is shortly to become Route 754 of the National Cycle Network. 


Sustrans' National Cycle Network Development Manager for Scotland Katharine Taylor said: "As a charity focusing on sustainable transport we are very pleased that Network Rail has decided to reinstate train services between Airdrie and Bathgate, even though it means we will temporarily lose a central section of Route 75. 


"People have really enjoyed walking and cycling along here because of the lovely views over the Central Scotland Plateau and former coal mining areas, which give a sense of what this part of Scotland might have been like in its industrial heyday. Hopefully the new route will provide an equally enjoyable leisure route and important community link."


A spokesman for Network Rail said: "Network Rail recognises the importance of the route to cyclists and the local communities it serves and apologises for any inconvenience caused during its relocation."


Sustrans has posted extensive details of alternative routes for walkers and cyclists during the route closure on its website's founder and first editor, nowadays to be found riding a spreadsheet. Tony's journey in cycling media started in 1997 as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - finally handing on the reins in 2021 to Jack Sexty. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes, though he'd like to own a carbon bike one day.

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