120 years old, the Glasgow underground metro system now carries 13 million passengers per year, 40000 per day. With 15 stations on a 10 kilometre route, the system has seen major upgrades twice before in its history. This current upgrade is expected to cost £288 million, mostly funded by the Scottish Government, with some support from the European Regional Development Fund.
Although much of the station refurbishment has been cosmetic, there have also been huge works undertaken on infrastructure; repairing tunnel linings, water sealing and upgrading the drainage system with advanced pumping equipment. The signalling system is being modernised to manage new driverless trains due to be introduced in 2020 and the control system has also been overhauled.
So what are the predicted benefits for passengers? Firstly, increased capacity and a more pleasant travelling experience, with brand new trains and refurbished stations. A new ticketing system has been introduced with customer operated ticket vending machines. Passenger safety is being increased with the installation of half-height screens along the length of the platforms. The stations will be more energy efficient too, with all 28 escalators on the system having been replaced and LED lighting installed.
Access has also been improved, though unfortunately lifts could only be installed in two stations – the age, size and design of many of the stations simply could not allow for the introduction of lifts without a full rebuild of the entire system with costs being prohibitive. Nevertheless, the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), in charge of the project, has worked with the RNIB and Access Scotland to try and introduce other innovations to help disabled users. These include the installation of hearing loops for hearing impaired passengers, tactile maps and colour contrasting tactile flooring near stairs for visually impaired passengers and the two lifts located at St Enoch and Govan stations. SPT has also undertaken improvements to lighting, maps and website information to assist passengers with additional needs.
The aim of the refurbishment and modernisation programme is to allow the passenger to travel quickly, safely and reliably. By making stations well-lit, clean and inviting passengers feel safe and secure and more likely to use the system, and with the infrastructure works and new rolling stock, the system will be able to offer enhanced capacity and reliability for passengers.