Scottish Government pledges £250m to Glasgow Subway upgrade


By a Newsnet reporter

The Scottish Government has announced it will commit £250m to upgrade the Glasgow Subway system.  The funds will allow for the biggest refurbishment of the line since the original Victorian system was modernised in the 1970s and will provide the majority of the estimated £287.5m total cost.  The remaining cash will be provided by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, which operates the iconic underground railway.

The upgrade will see the redevelopment of all 15 stations, allowing disabled access to all stations for the first time.  New driverless trains, a smart ticketing system, and a major upgrading of the signalling system will also be introduced.

Work has already started to upgrade Hillhead station and will shortly commence at other stations.  Unlike the modernisation programme during the 1970s when the line was closed for 3 years, this time the system will remain operational throughout the upgrading works.  The work is due to be completed in time for the Commonwealth Games, which Glasgow will host in 2014.

SPT chairman Jonathan Findlay welcomed the commitment of the funds by the Scottish Government, and said:

“Massive changes are coming down the line for the Subway and we’ve already committed millions to station upgrades, new escalators and smart card ticket technology as well as behind the scenes repairs to tunnels and track beds.

“Tendering for the new bespoke driverless trains and signalling that could improve how often our trains run has already begun and we’ve received submissions from world class firms.

“Working practices are also being addressed to make the Subway’s operation more flexible and we are fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead.”

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Secretary Alex Neil said: “The Glasgow subway has been at the very heart of the city of Glasgow for 115 years, but the time has come to make this icon of Scottish transport fit for the 21st century.”

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, also the MSP for Glasgow Southside, said: “We want to see a vibrant Glasgow maximising its economic potential and playing a key role in the sustainable economic development of Scotland.”

SNP MSP Sandra White said that the commitment to the city’s Subway is just one of many significant cash outlays that will help make Glasgow’s transport infrastructure fit for the 21st Century.

Ms White, MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, said:

“This is great news.  The Subway is an iconic part of Glasgow and it’s great to see it will be getting a significant revamp.

“Constituents are already noticing the upgrades to stations that SPT have commenced, and this significant investment from the Scottish Government will ensure that the whole network can be brought into the 21st Century.

“Alongside other transport improvements such as upgrades to the M74 and M80, Fastlink, and other rail improvements, this is another huge vote of confidence by the SNP Government in Glasgow’s economic future.”