Subway Modernisation

The Subway is undergoing its first full-scale upgrade in more than 30 years. Find out what we’re doing, view highlights and get the latest modernisation news.

What we’re doing


Why is the Subway being modernised?

before and after

The Glasgow Subway, which carries around 13 million passengers each year, is currently undergoing its biggest modernisation programme in over 30 years.

The full scale upgrade will ensure that the highest quality of service is delivered to the 40 thousand who use the Subway every day.

The 119 year old system had been showing its age and innovative solutions were required to ensure the Subway remains at the heart of Scotland’s largest city for many more years to come.

A £288 million funding package for the work is being supported by the Scottish Government and rebuilding work is happening right across the network. In addition to improvements already delivered there are far more underway and planned.

Rolling Stock, Signalling and Control Systems

New trains and state of the art technology

Vital elements of the Subway – the train fleet, signalling equipment and control systems – are being replaced and upgraded. With a significant budget committed, big changes are underway.

New driverless trains will replace the aging fleet, which has been in use since the 1970s. Subway trains and tunnels are smaller than other underground railway systems throughout the world. Bespoke trains will be designed and made to operate within the unique size of the Subway.

Screen gates will be installed at platform level to maximise passenger safety and the Subway’s signalling equipment, control systems and control centre will be completely revamped.

The Subway’s control centre operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Introducing the latest technology available will ensure that this crucial operational component of the Subway runs as effectively and efficiently as it can.


Progress to date

  • Manufacturing site visits undertaken.
  • ‘Invitation to submit detailed solutions’ phase continues with bidders submissions received in December 2014.

Stations and Accessibility

Improving safety, accessibility and customer service

We want our stations to offer a modern, welcoming environment for passengers. Key improvements to accessibility, safety and information provision are being introduced. Station interiors are also undergoing dramatic change and will feature a wide range of access improvements such as tactile paving and maps, hearing loops and colour contrast flooring. Lifts are being installed at two stations – St Enoch and Govan – the first of their kind in the network and UK market leader Otis has begun replacing all 28 escalators throughout the system. That complex work is a challenging aspect of our station improvement plan and is successfully underway.

Public art also features in stations with two big name artists currently on display at Hillhead and Kelvinhall.


Progress to date

  • Four stations modernised ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
  • New glass canopy installed at St Enoch – the flagship city centre station.
  • Designs for Buchanan and Govan stations complete and out to tender for construction work.
  • 15 out of 28 new escalators installed.


Improving tunnels, tracks and water management

The River Clyde has played an important role in transport history. Given its proximity to Subway stations – and that tunnels vary in depth between 7 and 115 feet below the Clyde’s high water level – potential water ingress is continually monitored. Tunnel lining repairs, water sealing and drainage improvements with upgraded pumping equipment is ongoing.

Innovative draining systems are being developed within the unique specifications of our Subway, too. When installed, this technology will automatically control and collect any unwanted water across the network.

A Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) team is also working with us to transform ingress water in the Subway into a sustainable heat source.

Progress to date

  • Contracts for traction power cable replacement substantially complete.
  • Tunnel pumping station upgrade contract awarded and site investigations started.
  • Tunnel lining contract awarded.

Smart technology

Reusable electronic tickets

Reusable plastic Subway Smartcards were introduced in autumn 2013 replacing paper magnetic strip tickets. Passengers can add credit and travel products to their Smartcards at self-serve machines and station ticket offices across all 15 Subway stations; and very soon, online.

This  technology provides more flexible travel by offering customers the benefits of a contactless, paperless, system. A key aspect of the introduction of Smartcards is the need for the new technology to be ITSO-compliant (ITSO is the national specification, or industry standard, for smart ticketing). It will enable the Subway Smartcard to be used seamlessly between different transport modes (such as bus, train and ferry) and in future to buy other everyday items such as coffee and cake.


Progress to date

  • More than 79,000 customers using smart technology to access the Subway.
  • Smart park and ride implemented at Bridge Street, Shields Road and Kelvinbridge stations.

Minimising disruption

We aim to do as much work as possible at night when the Subway is closed. But we may need longer for large projects when we must move in lots of heavy equipment. On Sunday – when there are fewer customers travelling and when the Subway shuts earlier – is often still the best time for us to work. It gives us a lot more uninterrupted hours for contractors to progress modernisation work.

New ways of working, including the latest engineering techniques, help as we try to keep disruption to a minimum. We will always ensure that customers are informed of any work which could impact on their day to day Subway journey.

Planned works

Glasgow Subway map
Works at Buchanan Street

Station: Buchanan Street
Works: Station modernisation and new moving walkway install
Dates: March 2015 to December 2015
Changes: Dundas Street entrance shut from Monday 4 May. Please use Buchanan Street.

Works at Govan

Station: Govan
Works: Govan Bus Station redevelopment
Dates: 31 May 2015 to August 2016
Changes: Existing stances will be relocated.

Station: Govan
Works: Modernisation works
Changes: No footpath access to Golspie street. Alternative route in place during modernisation works.

Works at Kelvinbridge

Station: Kelvinbridge
Works: Advanced modernisation works
Dates: January 2015 to October 2015
Changes: Temporary surfaces on walls and floor on lower concourse

Works at Partick

Station: Partick
Works: Escalators
Dates: May 2015 to September 2015
Changes: Limited escalator access on outer circle from 18 May until further notice.

Works at St Enoch

Station: St Enoch
Works: Howard Street entrance closure
Dates: February 2015 to August 2015
Changes: Howard Street entrance may be closed at certain times of the day – please use Argyle Street entrance.

Latest News


July 2011

Work begins at Hillhead in Glasgow’s West End. Hillhead is the flagship station for the entire Modernisation project and includes a detailed public mural by renowned Scottish Artist Alasdair Gray.

January 2012

Work to replace all 28 escalators on the system begins. A £5.6 million contract was awarded to Otis to replace existing escalators in place since the 1970s.

March 2012

The Scottish Government pledge £246 million capital funding towards Subway Modernisation.

June 2012

A £1.2 million upgrade is confirmed for Partick Station, a vital transport hub for the region connecting with rail and bus transport links.

September 2012

Flagship station Hillhead is officially opened by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

October 2012

Work at Partick Subway station begins. The Subway platform level is to be transformed reflecting the modern design in place at Hillhead.

December 2012

Contracts for works at Kelvinhall and Ibrox are awarded. Both stations will be modernised in time for Glasgow 2014 given their immediate proximity to two key Games venues.

April 2013

Partick station modernisation complete. Improvements include the replacement of all flooring, walls and ceilings; better signage and energy-efficient lighting.

May 2013

Ibrox and Kelvinhall stations are next to undergo modernisation treatment with works now underway. Temporary entrances are built to keep disruption to a minimum during building work.

June 2013

The installation of new ticket gates and ticket vending machines at stations begins as we prepare for the introduction of new smart 'tap in, tap out' style tickets.

October 2013

The Subway Smartcard, a reusable ticket, is issued to customers. Passengers are invited to 'go smart' and register for a free, reusable card, which is set to revolutionise travel on Glasgow's Subway.

January 2014

Ibrox station – the first in the south of Glasgow to be revamped – is officially opened by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Ms Sturgeon also tries out her own Subway Smartcard for the first time.
smartcard customers

February 2014

Construction begins at first city centre station. St Enoch, the busiest station on the network, will also be the first to have a lift installed. Work in areas of the concourse and platform will be completed in advance of the Commonwealth Games.

March 2014

20,000 plus customers now signed up for Smartcard technology.

April 2014

Kelvinhall station refurbishment complete. New ticket office; way-finding; hearing loops and tactile paving in place; and public art by Glasgow musician and artist Paul Buchanan.

May 2014

Construction of new staff offices at the Subway depot in Govan begins. The offices offer modern open plan working facilities.
st enoch

July 2014

Phase one of St Enoch station's £5.3 million renovation is complete. The city centre station which serves almost two million residents and visitors per year, has a brand new station office combined with a travel centre now in place.

September 2014

Architects appointed to lead on designs for Bridge Street, Cessnock, Kelvinbridge and Shields Road stations.

October 2014

New staff accommodation at Broomloan completed and staff relocated to new facility.

November 2014

Street level escalators at St Enoch installed using new methodology – minimising disruption time.
Glass canopy

December 2014

Installation of new glass canopy at St Enoch Argyle Street entrance completed.