Intervention description

A.247 This intervention supports the terminal capacity issues in Glasgow, which significantly constrain the future ability of the rail network in the West of Scotland to respond to challenges and facilitate change.  This intervention supports the objectives to address rail capacity issues in central Glasgow and increase public transport access to areas of economic activity.  It also assists in contributing to objectives within corridors that serve Glasgow.  The detail of the strategy builds on improvements to be delivered through the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvements Programme., and could include:

  • The development of a Metro/Light Rapid Transit network across Glasgow comprising a mixture of conversion of heavy rail (e.g. part or all of the Cathcart Circle), lines on existing redundant infrastructure (e.g. Great Western Road / Botanic Gardens), new lines (e.g. Clyde Waterfront) and some on-road or next-to-road sections; and/or

  • The provision of a new city centre station linking the rail network to the south and east of the city; and/or

  • The provision of a new city centre station linking the north and south rail networks.

A.248 Both of the new city centre station options would provide additional platform capacity in the city centre and permit cross-city services to be provided.

A.249 A Metro/Light Rapid Transit system could include new stations, improved service frequencies and improved access to and across central Glasgow.  The system would be rolled out on a phased basis. The operational concept for the system using proven technology could be expanded to include a new crossing of the Clyde to around the Southern General Hospital and other lines to link areas not currently served by the heavy rail network.

Contribution towards the Scottish Government’s Purpose

A.250 Existing Glasgow rail terminal capacity will be at capacity within the timeframe of the Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR). The lack of future rail terminal capacity places a significant constraint on the provision of additional rail services to meet future growth.

A.251 The analysis has identified that previous development of the rail network in the West of Scotland has been successful in making best use of the network by implementing small scale interventions and targeting individual constraints. The issue of terminal capacity cannot be addressed in this way, meaning that a ‘step-change’ is required in order to meet predicted future demand. This ‘step-change’ will be supported by some smaller scale interventions and enabling works. Some of these may be deliverable earlier than the major component(s) and allow some interim relief to be gained.

A.252 Detailed analysis of the problems has been undertaken to understand the function of the terminal capacity issues within the wider West of Scotland context. This analysis, in conjunction with the objectives, has allowed the identification of broad core elements, each of which could form the basis of the strategy to address the objectives:

  • Development of a Metro/Light Rapid Transit network ; and/or
  • New city centre station to improve capacity and cross city links.

A.253 Development of these core elements has been undertaken to a level to confirm that each could provide a workable solution.  This has included consideration of phasing and interaction both within and beyond the STPR period to deliver a meaningful solution.  The elements identified vary in terms of cost, risk, phasing, potential benefits, delivery timescale and in the way that they address the objectives.  The elements are also not exclusive, so the strategy could for example include a new city centre station and the development of certain Metro/light Rapid Transit lines.

A.254 The strategy will provide a level of ‘step-change’ that permits a fundamental restructuring and realignment of services across the West of Scotland and potentially beyond.  The details of this are undefined, meaning that the potential benefits that could be gained are not yet fully understood.  Similarly, the extent to which the Metro/Light Rapid Transit network would be developed is not a fixed proposal, but a number of phases have been identified and considered.  It is however understood that the additional capacity provided by the overall strategy would be such that it would provide for a variety of potential service enhancements, including other interventions identified within STPR.

A.255 This intervention would complement the development of intercity rail operations, giving an expanded public transport hierarchy.  Metro/Light Rapid Transit could provide for inner suburban movements, leaving heavy rail to cater principally for outer suburban and links to surrounding towns.  By providing cross-city routes, the Metro/Light Rapid Transit network could connect across Glasgow and also take pressure off the existing interchange facilities focused in the city centre.

Links to other strategies

A.256 The need to target capacity issues in the Glasgow suburban network and central Glasgow has been highlighted by Scotland’s Railways and Network Rail’s Scotland Route Utilisation Strategy. The conversion of parts of the Glasgow suburban rail network to light rail operations has been identified in Scotland’s Railways and the Scottish Planning Assessment. 

Current status of project

A.257 There is currently no formal commitment to this intervention.

Possible costs

A.258 The scale of investment required to deliver one, or a combination, of the elements has been considered in the context of providing a package that effectively addresses the objectives. On this basis, the estimated cost is in the range of £1.5bn to £3bn, although some of this would extend beyond the STPR delivery period.


A.259 At this stage of intervention development, it is considered that the various options would be technically and operationally feasible to build. There are a number of significant planning and construction risks associated with these options. There are also a number of uncertainties at this stage. A more detailed assessment is required to quantify these risks and reduce the uncertainties.