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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.

First new train enters Subway

28 Februar 2019 (56) 705X506

What we're doing

With new train testing underway off-site on our dedicated train testing track, this next milestone for modernisation will be moving the new trains into the system during non-passenger service at night for ‘online’ testing.  Having the extra time at weekends when we are closed will help assist with this process as we need to build up ‘running miles’ in the system before the trains can be introduced into passenger service. 

It will still be some time before the trains are introduced to passenger service as they now have to undergo intensive and extensive testing by manufacturer Stadler. This all happens “offline” while work continues to prepare our stations for the new trains with the installation of the new communications and controls systems in stations and in our tunnels. All of which is necessary before the trains can be used in the system.

It means that any time trains are not in the system – every weeknight and especially at weekends when we need the extra time available from our later Sunday opening and early close – that there’s lots of work going on behind the scenes in preparation for the introduction of the new 21st century Subway.

The joint venture of Stadler Bussnang AG / Ansaldo STS (now Hitachi) Consortium were awarded the £200 million contract to supply the new trains, signalling and equipment in March 2016.

This will see the 17 new trains for the Subway in a new four-car set formation, as opposed to the current three-set. Due to the unique dimensions of the Subway, the new trains sets are the same length and size as the existing rolling stock but inside passengers will now be able to walk the entire length of the train and enjoy an open view at the front into the tunnels.

As well as the new trains, the Subway’s signalling equipment, control systems and control centre will all be replaced bringing improved availability and reliability to passengers.

The system will include new platform screen doors, which will be ‘half height’ to preserve as much space and openness within the stations as possible while still maintaining passenger safety and security.

Once the new full system is in place – trains, signalling, operational control centre, platform screen doors – and it has been fully tested, the Subway will move from its current partially automatic trains to Unattended Train Operations (UTO).

Glasgow Subway modernisation continues at a rapid pace. We have now completed all 15 of our stations including our two city centre flagship stations.

St Enoch Station with its two new glass canopies has undergone the most comprehensive transformation bringing new life to the historic St Enoch Square. This work has been recognised with a Scottish Transport Award for Excellence in Public Realm.

Buchanan Street Station has also undergone modernisation complete with new travelators – a very important link to Queen Street Station.

The largest station refurbishment was at Govan in 2016 with the redevelopment of Govan Interchange station – the £7million new-look Subway and Bus station now boasts a new Subway Station entrance complete with new “wave” design front and back of the station radically changing the look and feel of the old station. Moving from the Subway to the bus station is designed to be as seamless as possible. The new bus canopy extends to the front of the Subway entrance providing weather protection for passengers.

The new Interchange station also links to the Fastlink service and has been welcomed by local residents and passengers as a new focal point for Govan.

Glasgow Subway:

The Subway opened on 14 December 1896 and is the third oldest underground system in the world after London and Budapest.

The Glasgow Subway carries 13 million passengers each year, and is currently undergoing its biggest modernisation programme in more than 30 years. The £288 million funding package for the work is being supported by the Scottish Government and the full-scale upgrade will ensure that the highest quality of service is delivered to the 40,000 passengers who use the Subway every day

We want our stations to offer a modern, welcoming environment for passengers.

Key improvements to accessibility, safety and information provision are being introduced.

There are tactile maps at key stations to assist those with visual impairment and all ticket offices have induction loops for customers with hearing difficulties. Intuitive way finding has been introduced supplemented with specific signage at picture rail height with both written and icon graphics to assist non-English speakers and those with learning difficulties.

All station stairways have now got 30-point colour contrast stair nosings to assist passengers with visual impairment, and additionally, there are corduroy tactile strips at top and bottom of each staircase to assist visually impaired passengers locate stairs.  We also have double height handrails, which are non-reflective and not “cold to touch” to assist passengers with mobility impairment and also for children.

This work has led to SPT becoming the first transport organisation in Scotland to have attained Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) accreditation for pan-disability, not just sight-related challenges.

Lifts have been installed at two stations – St Enoch and Govan – the first of their kind in the network and UK market leader Otis has now replaced all 28 escalators throughout the system.

Progress to date

  • Fifteen stations now modernised.
  • New glass canopy installed at both entrances to St Enoch – the flagship city centre station.
  • 28 out of 28 new escalators installed.

The Subway’s essential tunnel linings work is now complete. This targeted and prioritised work was a mammoth logistical and technical task involving 150 people deployed to strengthen and modernise our original Victorian tunnels, using more than 175,000 bags of grout materials.

Over the last two years, engineers have cleaned and inspected 14,600m of tunnel and 14,000m of track bed and drainage channel inspected 2800m2 and carried out 3000m2 of grouting.

The major objectives of the project were all successfully achieved, this work has:
• Improved the structural integrity of the tunnel lining
• Reduced the amount of water ingress into the Subway system
• Improved the water management and movement
• Improved the environment to identify any future defects more easily

Given the proximity of the River Clyde to the Subway, our tunnels vary in depth between seven and 115 feet below the Clyde’s high water level – potential water ingress is continually monitored.

Innovative draining systems have been 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 has been working with us to transform ingress water in the Subway into a sustainable heat source as part of a knowledge transfer partnership agreed with Caledonian University. As well as ways of recycling the water into the system, we are also looking at ways to recycle the air from the tunnels as another viable energy source for stations.

This work has been recognised with a Scottish Transport Award for the Contribution to Sustainable Transport for developing a Ground Water and Heat Source System on the Subway.

Bridge Street, Buchanan Street, Govan Interchange and Kelvinbridge are all heated from recycled air from the tunnel network using an Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP).

At St. George’s Cross Station, the station is heated using recycled water from the tunnel network using a Water Source Heat Pump (WSHP

Progress to date

• A £16 million programme of tunnel improvements is now complete, this essential work is vital before we introduce the new trains on the system
• Complete renewal of the Subway’s Ramps and Turnouts chambers
• Traction power cable replacement now complete
• Replaced all the tunnel pumping stations to modern standards providing the Subway with a modernised and reliable drainage system
• Tunnel lining works complete
• Installed new standard railway datum plates introducing a new and accurate measurement record for each tunnel and track section
• Works at Broomloan Depot ongoing in preparation for new trains arriving, complete with new track for extensive and intensive testing of new trains

Major achievements have been achieved in our ticketing system in recent years. Working with Nevis Technologies we continue to forge ahead with the Smartcard ticketing system.

The Subway introduced reusable plastic Smartcards in autumn 2013 replacing paper magnetic strip tickets. Passengers can add credit and Subway travel products to their Smartcards at self-serve machines and station ticket offices across all 15 Subway stations.

Major achievements have been achieved in our ticketing system in recent years. Working with Nevis Technologies we continue to forge ahead with the Smartcard ticketing system.

The Subway introduced reusable plastic Smartcards in autumn 2013 replacing paper magnetic strip tickets. Passengers can add credit and Subway travel products to their Smartcards at self-serve machines and station ticket offices across all 15 Subway stations.

As of April 2019, we have issued more than 200,000 Smartcards. Following the successful launch of online ticket sales for personalised Smartcard holders making it easier for our passengers to arrange and pay for travel. More than a quarter of all annual and six-month Subway season tickets are now purchased online.

We’re also continuing to work with other travel operators to develop more integrated travel options for commuters to make travelling by public transport easier, so we can offer real integrated ticketing options for passengers. In the future, your Subway Smartcard could be used seamlessly between different transport modes (such as bus, train and ferry) and even to buy other everyday items such as coffee and cake on your way to work.

The technology behind our Smartcard 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).

Progress to date

  • More than 200,000 customers now using Smart technology to access the Subway.
  • Smart Park and Ride implemented at Bridge Street, Shields Road and Kelvinbridge stations.

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.

Annual highlights

December 2021

The first of the new Subway trains successfully entered the system following the close of passenger service on Saturday 4 December, running through the night into Sunday 5 December.

January 2020
Delivery of the new wheel lathe to Broomloan depot, essential for the maintenance of the new rolling stock which will enable SPT to perform train wheel maintenance in-house.

Modernisation of West Street station complete.

March 2019
Two SPT maintenance staff seconded to Stadler to receive in-depth training on new trains and control system.

May 2019
The first new train arrives in Glasgow to start the beginning of an intensive testing programme by manufacturer Stadler.

June 2019
Modernisation of St George’s Cross complete and Kinning Park work begins. 

July 2019
Launch of new ‘My Glasgow, My Subway’ campaign featuring the stories of six Subway users.

Modernisation of Cowcaddens station complete.

August 2019
Modernisation of West Street station begins.

September 2019
Stabling shed roof and building refurbishment complete. This is the oldest building in the Broomloan Depot area dating back to the start of the Subway in 1896.

November 2019
Subway joins a host of public transport operators and Transport Scotland to ensure that any Smartcard from any operator now works across multiple modes of travel.

Modernisation of Kinning Park station complete.

December 2019
Modernisation of Cowcaddens station complete.

March 2018
Transport Focus passenger survey results reveal 97% satisfaction with Subway.

Shields Road Station complete.

May 2018
Bridge Street Station complete.

June 2018
Govan Interchange collects Integrated Transport of the Year at Scottish Transport Awards.

November 2018
Modernisation of St George's Cross begins.

December 2018
Modernisation of Cowcaddens station begins.

June 2017
Shields Road and Bridge Street modernisation contracts awarded to Graham Construction.

July 2017
Kelvinbridge Station complete.

October 2017
Subway modernisation picks up a Commendation at the Saltire Civil Engineering Awards for Infrastructure Innovation, work led by contractor Freyssinet.

March 2016
SPT announces significant step in the Subway Modernisation Programme, signing contracts with Stadler Bussnan AG / Ansaldo STS Consortium for the supply of new trains, signalling and equipment, valued at £200 million.

June 2016
St. Enoch is awarded the Excellence Public Realm award at the Scottish Transport Awards for the redevelopment of the station transforming St. Enoch Square with new glass canopies at the North and South entrances giving the historic square a new focus.

SPT collects the Contribution to Sustainable Transport Award for the work it has been doing with Glasgow University through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership for the Ground Water and Heat Source System on the Subway.

July 2016
Glasgow Subway services are suspended to allow essential renewal works to take place in its 'Ramps and Turnouts' section of the Subway tunnels.

August 2016
Subway services resume.

Modernisation works complete at Buchanan Street.

Modernisation works at Cessnock are well underway.

Work begins to replace the last two escalators in the Subway system.

September 2016
Subway Smartcard Online top-up is launched for Smartcard holders who can now top up when and where they want using their tablet, phone or PC.

Modernisation of Kelvinbridge Station begins.

October 2016
SPT's Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Glasgow Caledonian University receives worldwide recognition at the first International Conference on Energy Geotechnics.

December 2016
Subway celebrates 120 years of service!

Cessnock Station complete.

February 2015
Contract awarded to renew the Subway's Ramps and Turnouts, where trains access tunnels and cross between Inner and Outer Circles. Installed 40 years ago, it must be fully replaced to ensure the Subway for the future.

March 2015
Work to upgrade 21 pumping stations in the Subway begins (replacing pumps, pipework and electrical control panels) so we have a modernised, reliable Subway tunnel drainage system.

May 2015
Works begin at Buchanan Street Subway to modernise the station, including a new southern canopy to match the existing northern canopy.

June 2015
Works begin at Govan Subway and Bus station with extensive work to the station exterior and Bus Interchange designed to improve and enhance the customer experience.

£16 million programme of tunnel improvements begin to ensure the Subway's 120-year-old tunnels remain fit for purpose. This is essential work prior to the delivery of the new Rolling Stock.

August 2015
Refurbishment of flagship city centre St. Enoch Subway station completed, including the installation of lifts.

October 2015
More than 100,000 customers now using Smart technology to access the Subway.

Smart Park and Ride in place at Bridge Street, Shields Road and Kelvinbridge Stations.

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.

February 2014
Construction begins at the 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, wayfinding, 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.

July 2014
Phase one at 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.

August 2014
SPT agrees contract with WGM to upgrade all 21 pumping stations in the Subway system.

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.

December 2014
Installation of new glass canopy at St.Enoch Argyle Street entrance completed.

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. 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 preparations are made 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 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.

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.