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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.

New fleet enters passenger service

New trains in service

What we're doing

The first of our new trains entered passenger service for the first time in December 2023. 

This followed their final testing by train manufacturer Stadler, and a long testing period, both offsite at our dedicated testing area near the Broomloan Depot and in the Subway at night once the system has closed to passenger service. 

The new fleet is currently running alongside our existing legacy fleet at the moment, and will continue to do so over the coming months as more new trains are introduced during 2024.

All the new trains are custom made due to the unique size of Glasgow Subway. The new trains are the same length and size as the existing ones but are now a four-car set, as opposed to the current three-car set, with open gangways to maximise the space available. 

The new trains are, however, just the next stage in the Subway modernisation programme as we continue with work behind the scenes to replace the Subway’s signalling and communications system.  Still to come is the introduction of our new operational control centre which will be key to improving the availability and reliability of passenger service.

We will also be introducing platform screen doors (PSDs) to station platforms. These will be ‘half height’ to preserve as much space and openness within the stations as possible while still maintaining passenger safety and security.

Once these key milestones have been reached, we can them look to introduce Unattended Train Operation (UTO) or ‘driverless’ trains to the system.

This is the third major modernisation of the Subway system which is the third oldest in the world, opening in December 1896.

This current Subway modernisation programme has delivered brand new Smartcard ticketing; a complete refurbishment of our 15 Stations including our two city centre flagship stations; and will see 17 new trains enter the system complete with a brand-new signalling and control system.

Behind the scenes our Subway depot is also receiving an upgrade with an extension to our old stabling shed, new equipment to support and maintenance of our new trains, and a brand new control centre.

All of this work has happened or continues to take place while we run passenger service everyday to limit the inconvenience to the 13million passengers per year that rely on us to get around the city.

Our refurbished stations aim to offer a modern, welcoming environment for passengers.

We have introduced 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.

Our new trains also offer two dedicated wheelchair spaces on board with accessibility lifts available at St Enoch and Govan stations. We continue to look at other options to improve access to our stations for all passengers.

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

Implemented as a key part of the modernisation programme, Subway customers benefit from a fully smart ticketing system with a flexible range of ticket options to suit any travel pattern.

Customers can choose from single, return or all-day tickets as well as a range of season ticket options on smartcard. For maximum flexibility, we offer a Pay As You Go (PAYG) option on Smartcard with the daily price of travel capped at the cost of a return journey. This is ideally suited to flexible working patterns and in 2023 more than four million journeys were made using Subway PAYG.

Subway tickets and Pay As You Go topups are available in all Subway stations, or can be purchased online. Customers buying online can also take advantage of our innovative auto-topup (PAYG) and auto-renew (season ticket) functionality.

As of January 2024 more than 330,000 Subway smartcards have been issued to customers. It’s free to register for a Subway Smartcard but for maximum customer convenience, many customers choose to use an existing card such as a National Entitlement Card (NEC) or a ScotRail card, to load their ticket or PAYG credit and travel on the Subway.

Eligible concession customers (60+/disabled) can also simply use their NEC for travel and they are automatically deducted a concessionary PAYG fare. Similarly under 16 customers can use their Young Scot card to travel at the child rate.

SPT continues to progress with smart and integrated ticketing development, including moving ZoneCard onto a fully smart platform to integrate Subway with bus and rail. Looking further ahead, from 2025 customers will be able to tap through the Subway entry gates with a debit card, credit card or mobile wallet for even more convenience.

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

January 2023
We issued our 300,000th Subway Smartcard.

December 2023
The new Subway trains enter the system for the first time, positively welcomed by passengers.


November 2022
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth visits the Subway Depot to view the new trains as they undergo testing in the system.

December 2022
SPT announces a Subway fares prize freeze in light of continuing positive growth in patronage post-Covid and taking into account the ongoing cost of living crisis.

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.