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

Looking to the future

Take a look at the future of the Subway

2019 has been a big year for SPT with the arrival of the first of our brand new Subway trains in Glasgow. This has been a major milestone for the modernisation programme and everyone involved in the delivery of the new trains.

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 week night 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).



Subway modernisation

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

New look stations and better 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.

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.


Improving tunnels, tracks and water management

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


Smart technology

Reusable electronic tickets

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.

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.

Modernisation progress

Glasgow Subway map

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.
Subwaty escalators

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.
Subway modernisation

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.
Hillhead station

September 2012

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

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.
Partick modernisation 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 with works now underway. Temporary entrances are built to keep disruption to a minimum during building work.
Subway goes Smart

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.
Subway Smartcard

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.
St. Enoch

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.
Smartcard milestone

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.

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.
Broomloan offices

October 2014

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

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.
Ramps and Turnouts

February 2015

Contract awarded to renew the Subway’s Ramps and Turnouts, where trains access tunnels & 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 & electrical control panels) so we have a modernised, reliable Subway tunnel drainage system.
Buchanan Street

May 2015

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

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.
Tunnel improvements

June 2015

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

August 2015

Refurbishment of flagship city centre St. Enoch Subway Station completed including the installation of lifts.
Smart technology

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.
Subway services resume

August 2016

Subway services resume.
Buchanan Street complete

August 2016

Modernisation works complete at Buchanan Street.
Cessnock modernisation underway

August 2016

Modernisation works at Cessnock are well underway.
Last 2 escalators upgraded

August 2016

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

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, PC or Smartphone.
Kelvinbridge modernisation begins

September 2016

Modernisation of Kelvingbridge Station begins.
Knowledge tranfer partnership receives worldwide recognition

October 2016

SPT’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Glasgow Caledonian University receives worldwide recognition at the first International Conference on Energy Geotechnics.
Subway 120 Birthday

December 2016

Subway celebrates 120 years of service!
Cessnock station complete

December 2016

Cessnock Station complete.
 Shields Road and Bridge Street modernisation contracts awarded

June 2017

Shields Road and Bridge Street modernisation contracts awarded to Graham Construction.
 Kelvinbridge Station complete

July 2017

Kelvinbridge Station complete.
 Saltire Civil Engineering Awards

October 2017

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

March 2018

Transport Focus passenger survey results reveal 97% satisfaction with Subway.
Shields Road Station complete

March 2018

Shields Road Station complete.
Bridge Street Station complete

May 2018

Bridge Street Station complete.
 Scottish Transport Awards

June 2018

Govan Interchange collects Integrated Transport Operator of the Year at Scottish Transport Awards.
St. Geroge's Cross station

November 2018

Modernisation of St Georges Cross begins
Cowcaddens station

December 2018

Modernisation of Cowcaddens begins