Glasgow Crossrail: Will the ‘missing link’ be built?

Rail services from the east terminate at Glasgow Queen Street, meaning passengers must then travel to Central for a connecting train south. Picture: John Devlin

Rail services from the east terminate at Glasgow Queen Street, meaning passengers must then travel to Central for a connecting train south. Picture: John Devlin

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IT’S long been a source of frustration for passengers who face walking across town in order to change trains.

The lack of a connecting link between Glasgow Central and Queen Street stations means a five minute dash along Buchanan Street for those looking for a train south after arriving from the east and vice versa.

Crossrail would not only benefit Glasgow - it would bring national benefits by linking Ayrshire to the north of the country.

Glasgow City Council spokeswoman

Currently, most services from Ayrshire and the south-west terminate at Central and cannot carry on through to Edinburgh.

It is viewed by transport and civic authorities as a major flaw in the city’s rail network.

The Glasgow Crossrail project, which would bridge this gap, has been discussed on and off for more than 25 years. But talk has so far not transformed to concrete plans.

Jim Murphy, the former Scottish Labour leader, revived the issue in February when he said his party would proceed with Crossrail if they won the 2016 Holyrood elections.

The project would involve reopening the City Union Line, or Tron line, for regular passenger use and building three new stations at Glasgow Cross, the Gorbals and a possible transport interchange at West Street where passengers could access the Subway network.

The Tron line, which crosses the Saltmarket and Gallowgate, would allow passengers travelling to and from the south to avoid changing in Glasgow and connect directly with the east of the country.

Crossrail was promoted for several years by Strathclyde Passenger Transport and overall costs have been estimated at around £150 million to £200 million.

But the plans appear to have been shunted into a siding.

Glasgow City Council remains committed to building the link but claims progress has stalled since Transport Scotland dropped the idea several years ago.

“It’s a long standing ambition of the city and the council has attempted to safeguard the potential construction of the route in our development plans for Glasgow,” said a spokeswoman.

“Crossrail would not only benefit Glasgow – it would bring national benefits by linking Ayrshire to the north of the country, allowing people to get to work from further afield and making it easier for commuters to pass through the city.”

Rail consultant David Spaven said the project could provide huge benefits to passengers.

“With well-located city centre stations, including interchanges with existing routes, Glasgow Crossrail could be transformational – opening up cross-city journeys and offering a genuine alternative to the car for suburb-to-suburb and inter-regional transits where the railway struggles to compete at present,” he said.

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said the Scottish Government was committed to increasing public access to the rail network in the West of Scotland and was currently delivering a substantial programme of investment in the rail infrastructure, particularly within the central belt.

The spokesman added: “To date we have yet to receive a formal proposal from promoters to deliver the Glasgow Crossrail scheme but we are willing to consider all bids that have a clear rationale, are viable and are consistent with local and national aspirations.”

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