The Glasgow Subway

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Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright May 2009, Thomas Nugent; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.
Images also under a similar Creative Commons Licence.


Introduction

Glasgow has the third oldest underground railway system in the world. Opened in 1896, it is predated only by the London and Budapest systems.

The word "System" perhaps suggests an elaborate layout of tracks, intersections and stations; there are, in fact, only two tracks which form concentric 10.4Km "circles", imaginatively named the Outer Circle, which runs clockwise through each of the fifteen stations and the Inner circle which runs anti-clockwise through each of the fifteen stations. The trains were originally cable hauled by means of a steam engine which was located between West Street and Shields Road. The system was eventually electrified in 1935.

Originally, all stations had single island platforms which served both circles. Buchanan Street, Partick, Govan, Ibrox, Hillhead, and St Enoch stations were modified to add a second platform during the major late 1970s renovation.

Partick station only came into existence following the 1970s renovation when it replaced the nearby Merkland Street station. The new station offered a better connection to the North Clyde main line services. Traces of Merkland Street station can still be seen in the form of an enlarged tunnel bore, but the platforms have been removed. Some of the furniture and fittings from Merkland Street were used to create the "Kelvin Street" display at the Museum of Transport (since replaced by Riverside Museum).

Of course, being Glasgow, it is rarely referred to as "The Underground", locals preferring to call it "The Subway" or "The Shooglies". The name subway is self evident. To "shoogle" is to rock from side to side and if you have ever ridden on the Glasgow system you will appreciate this nickname.

It is occasionally referred to as "The Clockwork Orange" and there are a few theories as to how that name came about.

One theory is that it is named after the Stanley Kubrick film which was released in 1971, because the new trains on the refurbished system, which reopened in 1980 after a three year closure, were bright orange and ran like clockwork around the circles.

Another theory is that it is derived from a comment made by Malcolm Waugh (chairman of Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive) during a visit by Sir Peter Parker (Chairman of British Rail) to the construction works for the Argyle Line. According to Sir Peter's autobiography, at the partially built Partick interchange station there was a mock-up of a new subway train. Parker remarked to Waugh that "it's like a little clockwork train", to which Waugh, possibly alluding to a number of issues that had hampered the project, replied "Mair like a clockwork orange".

Regardless of how that nickname came about, the trains are certainly small in height and length in comparison with other systems and will probably appear toy-like and even claustrophobic to those more used to the London Underground. At four feet, the gauge is very uncommon and is due to the small tunnel size.

See the official Strathclyde Partnership for TransportExternal link website for more details of services and fares.

This Wikipedia articleExternal link provides a great deal of information about the system.

Broomloan Depot

There is only one depot on the system and it is mainly above ground beside Govan subway station and runs parallel with Helen Street. Until the system was modernised in 1977-1980, the cars had to be hoisted up a shaft from the running tracks to the depot as there were no points on the system.
NS5565 : Broomloan Depot by Thomas Nugent NS5565 : Broonloan Depot yard by Thomas Nugent NS5565 : Subway maintenance vehicle by Thomas Nugent NS5564 : Old railway line by Thomas Nugent NS5564 : End of the line by Thomas Nugent

Livery

The new rolling stock which was introduced with the 1980 re-opening was, as described above, orange. There have been some custom paint jobs over the years, for advertising or promotional purposes and some of these are shown below.
NS5965 : Rabbie Burns themed subway train by Thomas Nugent NS5566 : Partick subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5666 : Hillhead underground station by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Scottish Sun advert by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Buchanan Street subway station by Thomas Nugent

A new orange and grey livery appeared to be being phased-in in late 2011.
NS5965 : Buchanan Street subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Buchanan Street subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5566 : Partick subway station by Thomas Nugent


The Stations

There are fifteen stations on the system which runs north and south of the River Clyde through the city centre and to the west. Our journey begins and ends at St Enoch in the city centre, heading north on the Inner Circle. You might want to wear ear-plugs as it tends to be quite noisy on the trains!

NS5864 : Glasgow subway pictorial map by Thomas Nugent
Here is a photo of the pictorial map of the system which is on the exterior wall of West Street station.



St Enoch

The original booking office in St Enoch Square was converted to a Travel Centre when the system was refurbished between 1977-1980. It closed in 2008 and re-opened as a coffee shop in 2009.
NS5865 : St Enoch Square by Gerald England NS5864 : Travel centre, St Enoch Square by Stephen Sweeney NS5864 : Former travel centre by Thomas Nugent NS5865 : St Enoch Square by Thomas Nugent

There are two entrances to St Enoch station, both in St Enoch Square.
NS5864 : St Enoch Square by Stephen Sweeney NS5865 : St Enoch Square by Thomas Nugent NS5864 : St Enoch Square by Thomas Nugent NS5864 : St Enoch Square by Thomas Nugent NS5865 : Clockwork Orange by Andy Farrington NS5865 : St Enoch Underground Station by Andy Farrington

The platforms at St Enoch are one at each side, with the twin tracks in between.
NS5864 : St Enoch subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5864 : St Enoch subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5864 : St Enoch underground station by Thomas Nugent

There is an aluminium sculpture at the station (artist unknown) which contains many facts & figures about the underground system - if you look closely!
NS5864 : Glasgow Subway sculpture by Thomas Nugent NS5864 : St Enoch subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5864 : St Enoch subway station by Thomas Nugent

Buchanan Street

There are no buildings above ground at this station. There are two glass canopied entrances on Buchanan street (north and south) and a travelator link to Queen Street mainline station.
NS5965 : Buchanan Street subway entrance/exit by wfmillar NS5965 : Subway car No 41T by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Travelators by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Entrance to Queen Street Station by Stephen Sweeney NS5865 : Buchanan Street underground station by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Buchanan Street by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Dundas Street by Thomas Nugent
NS5965 : Buchanan Street subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Buchanan Street by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Buchanan Street subway station by Thomas Nugent [NS5965 : Buchanan Street subway station by Thomas Nugent]

The above ground scene has changed considerably since 1961.
NS5965 : Buchanan Street, Glasgow: subway station entrance on right by Ben Brooksbank

There are two platforms at Buchanan Street; an island serves the Inner Circle and a standard platform serves the Outer Circle.
NS5965 : Buchanan Street subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Buchanan Street subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5965 : Buchanan Street subway station by Thomas Nugent

Cowcaddens

Cowcaddens is to the north of the city centre and the station serves Caledonian University, Glasgow School of Art and the Passport Office amongst others.
NS5866 : Cowcaddens subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : Cycle route marker by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : Cowcaddens underpass by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : Cowcaddens subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5966 : Cowcaddens subway station by Thomas Nugent

A single island platform serves both circles at Cowcaddens.
NS5866 : Cowcaddens subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : Cowcaddens subway station by Thomas Nugent

St George's Cross

St George's Cross is at the junction of St George's Road, Maryhill Road and Great Western Road
on the fringes of the West End.
NS5866 : St George's Cross underground station by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : St George's Cross underground station by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : St George's Cross underground station by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : St George and the Dragon by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : Great Western Road by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : St Georges Cross subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : St Georges Cross subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : St Georges Cross subway station by Thomas Nugent

The station is served by a single island platform.
NS5866 : St Georges Cross subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5866 : St Georges Cross subway station by Thomas Nugent

Kelvinbridge

This station is on Great Western Road, by the banks of the River Kelvin at the north end of Kelvingrove Park.
NS5766 : Kelvinbridge subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5766 : Kelvinbridge subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5766 : Kelvinbridge subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5766 : Kelvinbridge footbridges by Thomas Nugent NS5766 : Subway Entrance by Darrin Antrobus

A single island platform serves both platforms at Kelvinbridge.
NS5766 : Kelvinbridge subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5766 : Kelvinbridge subway station by Thomas Nugent

Hillhead

This station is on Byres Road in the heart of the West End and serves Glasgow University.
NS5667 : Hillhead subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5667 : Hillhead subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5667 : Hillhead subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5667 : Glasgow tour bus by Thomas Nugent

There are two platforms at Hillhead; an island serves the Inner Circle and a standard platform serves the Outer Circle.
NS5666 : Hillhead underground station by Thomas Nugent NS5666 : Hillhead underground station by Thomas Nugent NS5666 : Hillhead underground station by Thomas Nugent

Renovation work was under way in November 2011, continuing into 2012.
NS5667 : Hillhead subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5667 : Hillhead subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5667 : Hillhead subway station by Thomas Nugent

Kelvinhall

Hidden amongst the shops on busy Dumbarton Road, near the junction with Byres Road. As the name suggests, it is near the Kelvin Hall which houses an indoor sports arena. Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery is also served by this station.
NS5666 : Dumbarton Road by Thomas Nugent NS5666 : Kelvinhall subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5666 : Kelvinhall subway station by Thomas Nugent

A single island platform serves both circles at Kelvinhall. In common with most stations, it can get pretty crowded when there is a football match at Ibrox.
NS5666 : Kelvinhall subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5666 : Kelvinhall subway station by Thomas Nugent.

There was a Glasgow Underground exhibit in the former Museum of Transport at the Kelvin Hall which depicted the fictitious Kelvin Street. That museum is now closed and a similar exhibit can now be found at the new Riverside Museum which opened in 2011.
NS5666 : Glasgow subway exhibit by Thomas Nugent NS5666 : Kelvin Street by Thomas Nugent

Partick

Partick is an interchange station, with connections to the mainline station of the same name (directly above) as well as nearby bus connections. This station was extensively remodelled in 2008-2009. It is the most convenient station for the new Riverside Museum which opened in 2011 and includes a large Glasgow Subway exhibit.
NS5566 : Partick Station by Sandy Gemmill NS5566 : Partick railway station by Thomas Nugent NS5566 : Partick railway station by Thomas Nugent NS5566 : Partick bus station by Stephen Sweeney NS5566 : Partick railway station by Thomas Nugent NS5566 : Partick railway station by Thomas Nugent NS5565 : Riverside Museum by Thomas Nugent

The platforms at Partick are one at each side, with the twin tracks in between.
NS5566 : Underground train at Partick by Thomas Nugent NS5566 : Partick subway station by Thomas Nugent NS5566 : Partick underground station by Thomas Nugent

KML

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