Glasgow Central station

Glasgow Central station

Infobox UK station
name = Glasgow Central
other_name =
code = GLC

caption = Looking towards the destination board installed in 2005.
manager = Network Rail
locale = Glasgow
borough = Glasgow City Council
latitude = 55.8585
longitude = -4.2579
platforms = 16 (2 on lower level)
pte = SPT
usage0203 = 22.958
usage0405 = 27.006
usage0506 = 29.380
usage0607 = 21.002
years = 1 August 1879
events = High Level Station Opened
years1 = 10 August 1896
events1 = Low Level Station Opened
years2 = 1901–1905
events2 = High Level Station Rebuilt
years3 = 1960
events3 = Re-Signalling
years4 = 3 October 1964
events4 = Closure of Low Level Station
years5 = May 1974
events5 = Start of "Electric Scot" services to London Euston
years6 = 5 November 1979
events6 = Reopening of Low Level Station as part of Argyle Line
years7 = 1984–1986
events7 = Refurbished
years8 = 1998–2003
events8 = Refurbished|

Glasgow Central is the larger of the two present main-line railway terminals in Glasgow, Scotland, and is managed by Network Rail. It is the northern terminus of the West Coast Main Line, and was opened by the Caledonian Railway on 31 July 1879.Thomas (1971); Chapter VIII - Glasgow]

It is the busiest railway station in the United Kingdom outside London.cite web | url= | title=Station usage | publisher=Office of Rail Regulation | accessdate=2006-09-16 ] According to Network Rail, over 34 million people depart from, or arrive at, Glasgow Central each year. [cite web | url=| title=Glasgow Central | publisher=Network Rail | accessdate=2007-04-12 ] Glasgow Central serves all of the Greater Glasgow conurbation's southern towns and suburbs, the Ayrshire and Clyde coasts, as well as being the terminus for all inter-city services from Glasgow to destinations south of the border.

Original (high level) station

The original station, opened on 1 August 1879 on the north bank of the River Clyde, had eight platforms and was linked to Bridge Street station by a railway bridge over Argyle Street and a four-track railway bridge, built by Sir William Arrol, which crossed the Clyde to the south.

The station was soon found to be too congested. In 1890, a temporary solution of widening the bridge over Argyle Street and inserting a ninth platform on Argyle Street bridge was completed.Matheson, Donald Alexander (1908). "Glasgow Central Station Extension". In: "Minutes of Institution of Civil Engineers", 10 November 1908.] It was also initially intended to increase Bridge Street station to eight through lines and to increase Central Station to 15 platforms.

Low level station

The low-level platforms, in what was originally a separate station, were added to serve the underground Glasgow Central Railway, which was authorised on 10 August 1888 and opened on 10 August 1896.Awdry (1990); p77] The Glasgow Central Railway was taken over by the Caledonian Railway in 1890. Services ran from Maryhill Central and from the Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire Railway in the west through to Rutherglen and via Tollcross through to Carmyle, Newton and other Caledonian Railway destinations to the east of Glasgow.

The 1901–1905 station rebuild

By 1900 the station was again found to be too small: passenger numbers per annum on the high level station having increased by 5.156 million since the first extension was completed in 1890. The 1899 passenger usage per annum being 16.841 million on the high level station and 6.416 million on the low level station, a total of 23.257 million. The station is on two levels: the High Level station at the same level as Gordon Street, which bridges over Argyle Street; and the underground Low Level station.

Between 1901 and 1905 the original station was rebuilt. The station was extended over the top of Argyle Street and thirteen platforms were built. An additional eight-track bridge was built over the Clyde, and the original bridge was raised by 30 inches (0.75 m).Cameron(2006): Hume - Chapter 1] Bridge Street station was then closed.

The High Level station now has 14 platforms covered by a large steel ridge/furrow roof. These platforms are numbered 1–11, 11a and 12–13. Platform 11a was created during the 1901–1905 rebuild but was not originally for passenger use—it was known as the "Fish, Fruit and Milk platform".

Central Station has a spacious concourse containing a variety of shops, catering outlets, ticket offices and a travel centre. The station is fronted by the Central Hotel on Gordon Street, designed by Robert Rowand Anderson. The world's first long-distance television pictures were transmitted to the Central Hotel in the station, on 24 May 1927 by John Logie Baird. [ [ Interview with Paul Lyons] , historian and Control and Information officer at Glasgow Central Station] The station building also houses a long line of shops and bars down the Union Street side. The undercroft of the station is not open to the general public - housing private car parking and utility functions for both the station itself and the adjoining Central Hotel.

The station's famous architectural features are the large glass-walled bridge that takes the station building over Argyle Street, nicknamed as the "Heilanman's (or Hellaman's) Umbrella" by locals because it was used as a gathering place for visiting Highlanders;cite book | last=Nicolaisen | first=W.F.H. | authorlink=W.F.H. Nicolaisen | year=2001 | title=Scottish Place Names | id=ISBN 0-85976-556-3 ] and the former ticket offices / platform and train-destination information building. This was a large oval building, with the booking office on the ground floor and the train information display for passengers on large printed cloth destination boards placed behind large windows on the first floor by a team of two men. Underneath the "Umbrella" is a bustling array of shops and bars, as well as the "Arches" nightclub, theatre, gallery and restaurant complex.


The original 1889 signal box was replaced with an electro-pneumatic power-operated signal box based on the Westinghouse system.Cameron (2006): Nelson - Chapter 17] Work started in October 1907 and it opened on 5 April 1908. It was built directly over the River Clyde, sitting suspended between the two river bridges, well above the level of the tracks. Inside was a frame of 374 miniature levers, making it the longest power frame ever built in Great Britain.Nock, O.S.,(1963). "British Rail in Transition". Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.]

The present Glasgow Central Signalling Centre, located in the "vee" of Bridge Street Junction, opened on 2 January 1961. It replaced signal boxes at Central Station, Bridge Street Junction, Eglinton Street Junction and Eglinton Street Station. When initially opened it was capable of handling 1,000 routes.

The new signalling centre was needed for three reasons:

* The 1907 power signal box was worn out;
* The original 1879 bridge over the River Clyde was coming to the end of its useful life, and it was more effective to use the newer (1904) bridge to handle all the traffic, with the lines signalled by-directionally;
* Electrification of the Cathcart Circle Lines, and subsequently the Gourock and Wemyss Bay services and the West Coast Main Line.

Plans are in hand to install new signalling at Glasgow Central, which is to be controlled from a new signalling centre at Cowlairs.

Railway electrification

Overhead power lines began to appear on the high-level platforms by the mid-1960s. Firstly, 6.25 kV AC Overhead power lines from the Cathcart Circle Line electrification scheme, which started on 29 May 1962. cite journal | last=Little | first=Stuart M. | title= Greater Glasgow's Railway Network | journal=Scottish Transport | volume= No. 33 | pages= 2–12|date= December 1979| id=ISSN 0048-9808] Cameron (2006); Summers - Chapter 26] During this period, the old 1879 bridge over the River Clyde was removed and the railway lines were rearranged.

This was followed by the 25 kV AC overhead-power-lines electrification of the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway and the Inverclyde Line to Gourock and Wemyss Bay, completed in 1967; and the WCML northern electrification scheme in 1974. Part of the Cathcart Circle was upgraded to 25 kV AC supply in 1974, to provide a diversionary route; the whole of the Cathcart Circle route was later upgraded to that supply.

Plans exist to electrify other routes, such as the Whifflet Line, as part of a scheme to improve rail services in Scotland.

Late 20th century developments

Low level station


Services through the Low Level station were withdrawn on 3 October 1964, said to be due to competition with the tram. However, the trams had been withdrawn by 1962, so this may be a contradiction of the "Beeching Axe".


In 1979 part of the low level line was electrified and the Low Level station was re-opened as the Argyle Line of the Glasgow suburban railway network. It consists of a single island platform, numbered as platforms 14 & 15.

Initially services were provided by Class 303 and Class 314 units. The latter units were built specifically for this service. Following the withdrawal of the Class 303 units, the service is, as of 2007, provided by Class 318 and Class 334 "Juniper" units.

Class 320 units were intended to be used on the route, but the narrow tunnels made this proposal impossible, and these units are restricted to the North Clyde Line.Fact|date=February 2007

:"Further details of services can be found in the Argyle Line article."

Flooding of the Low Level line

Over the Christmas festive period of 1994, on 11 December, torrential rain caused the River Kelvin to burst its banks at the closed Kelvinbridge station, with the water making its way through the disused tunnels to Exhibition Centre and the Low Level station, [cite web | url = | title = Glasgow Central Low Level Railway Flood / December 11th/12th 1994 | accessdate = 2008-02-13 ] which was completely submerged by the resultant flash flood. It was closed for many months while repairs were made.

In August 2002, torrential rain flooded out the low-level stations from Dalmarnock through to Exhibition Centre for a number of weeks. Most services were routed to the High Level platforms, or to Queen Street station. Incidentally, the 2002 Glasgow floods had a number of other effects, infamously causing a cryptospiridium outbreak in Glasgow's water supply.

1980s redevelopment

The high-level station's facilities were substantially redeveloped in the mid 1980s. The old ticket office / train information building was replaced by an all-new Travel Centre in 1985 adjacent to the Gordon Street entrance, and by 1986 a massive electro-mechanical destination board at the end of the platforms, with a smaller repeater board at the western side of the concourse, had replaced the archaic manually operated train-information boards. The old booking office / train information building was retained and redeveloped into shops, eateries and an upstairs bar/restaurant, and the station was re-floored in marble.

1998–2005 refurbishment

In 1998, a five-year renovation programme was initiated by Railtrack, which saw the station completely re-roofed and internally refurbished. The 1980s vintage mechanical destination boards were replaced with modern LED-style information signage. The final improvement, the upgrading of the upstairs restaurant area, was completed in 2005.

Train operating companies

Five train-operating companies operate trains to and from this station:

* First ScotRail / SPT – Passenger services within Scotland, and sleepers to London Euston.
* Virgin West Coast – to London Euston and Birmingham New Street.
* National Express East Coast – to Edinburgh Waverley railway station, Newcastle, York railway station and London King's Cross
* First Transpennine Express – via Carlisle railway station, Lancaster railway station, Preston railway station, Manchester Piccadilly railway station to Manchester Airport railway station.
* CrossCountry – Cross-country routes via Edinburgh and East Coast Main Line. [cite web
url =
title = Routes and Networks
accessdate =
accessdaymonth = 17 August
accessmonthday =
accessyear = 2007
author =
last =
first =
authorlink =
coauthors =
date =
year =
month =
format =
work =
publisher = Arrvia
pages = 1
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doi =
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quote =

A taxi rank is to the north of the station, while buses operate from the adjacent streets. St Enoch and Buchanan Street Subway stations are within a few minutes' walk of the station.

SPT operate a bus service to Glasgow Queen Street and the Buchanan bus station; this bus is numbered 398.

Future schemes

In order to accommodate the proposed Glasgow Airport Rail Link, scheduled to open in 2011, an extended Platform 11a will be created by demolishing the present platform-level car park and passenger drop-off area. [cite web | url= | title=Glasgow Airport Rail Link Act 2007 - Schedule 1 - Scheduled Works | author=Scottish Parliament | date=January 15, 2007 | publisher=Office of Public Sector Information | accessdate=2007-02-21] [cite web | url= | title=Glasgow Airport Rail Link Act 2007 - Schedule 8 - Listed Buildings | author=Scottish Parliament | date=January 15, 2007 | publisher=Office of Public Sector Information | accessdate=2007-02-21] There are no plans to replace indoor parking or passenger drop-off within Central station. The existing multi-storey parking facility on Oswald Street and on-street parking surrounding Central station will remain, with passenger drop-off also moving to surrounding streets. [cite web | url= | title=Glasgow Airport Rail Link - Q and A | author=Weber Shandwick | date=February 10, 2007 | work=Strathclyde Passenger Transport | accessdate=2007-02-21]




* [ History of Glasgow Central station]


rail line
"Line open; station open
previous=Glasgow Cross
"Line open; station closed
route=Caledonian Railway

"'Glasgow Central Railway
rail line
previous=Eglinton Street
"Line open; station closed
route=Caledonian Railway

Cathcart District Railway
rail line
"Line open; station closed
route=Caledonian Railway

Polloc and Govan Railway
rail line
previous=Bridge Street
"Line open; station closed
route=Caledonian and
Glasgow & South Western

Glasgow and Paisley
Joint Railway

rail line
"Line open; station closed
route=Caledonian and
Glasgow & South Western

"'Glasgow, Barrhead and
Kilmarnock Joint Railway



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