Historic Scottish rail depot reopens with plans for up to 5,000 jobs

The deal marks a new chapter in The Caley’s storied 168-year heritage

It looked to have reached the end of the line after being closed five years ago, but now one of Scotland’s most historic locomotive works is back on track.

The famous St Rollox rail depot in Glasgow, a key site in the nation’s rich railway engineering heritage, has reopened as part of ambitious plans to create thousands of jobs over the next decade.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The depot, better known as The Caley, served Scotland’s rail network for more than 160 years, building carriages, wagons and locomotives, as well as troop-carrying gliders used in the Normandy landings during World War Two. Despite a passionate campaign waged by unions and politicians, the site’s then owner, Gemini Rail Services, closed the works in July 2019, resulting in the loss of 67 jobs.

Three years ago, however, the landmark Springburn site was acquired for £5.75 million by David Moulsdale, who made his fortune via the Optical Express empire. Having invested several million pounds towards the maintenance and refurbishment of The Caley’s buildings, he has now joined forces with Gibson’s Engineering, run by father-and-son duo Dougie and Fraser Gibson, who will now use the site as the company’s new engineering facility.

The depot will serve as a one-stop shop for train manufacturing, maintenance and repairs, ensuring the seamless operation of light and heavy rolling stock, with plans for a fully electrified rail line from its buildings to the main line, between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Those behind the venture say it will create employment opportunities for engineers, coachbuilders, project managers and apprentices, with the aim to expand the Gibson’s workforce to over 1,000 employees over the next five years, and hopefully 5,000 over the next ten years.

Fraser Gibson, Gibson’s managing director, said: “This is fantastic news for Scotland, which has a proud heritage and tradition of rail manufacturing, maintenance and repair. It’s full steam ahead and Dougie and I are excited to work with our team to get the facility fully operational, and to get The Caley thriving again, as it did for over 160 years previously.”

The St Rollox depot is a prized part of Scotland's rich industrial heritage. Picture: Matt MarcusThe St Rollox depot is a prized part of Scotland's rich industrial heritage. Picture: Matt Marcus
The St Rollox depot is a prized part of Scotland's rich industrial heritage. Picture: Matt Marcus

Mr Moulsdale, who was born and raised just three miles from the locomotive works, said: “I vividly recall the enormous impact this unique engineering powerhouse had on me, and on the Greater Glasgow and broader Scottish community. I’m extremely confident that our ambition to see significantly larger-scale employment of engineers, coachbuilders, project managers and apprentices in the north of Glasgow will come to fruition.

“Together with Gibson’s Engineering and the local community, we are breathing new life into The Caley and the Scottish economy.”

The rebirth of The Caley has also been warmly welcomed by Professor Sir Jim McDonald, principal of the University of Strathclyde. He said: “Engineering, technology and an entrepreneurial spirit serve as the foundation of Scotland's innovation and progress, and have done so for centuries. Glasgow and the West of Scotland at large are going through an engineering renaissance in several areas, including manufacturing, energy, aerospace and many others.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“This enhances the opportunity for Gibson’s Engineering to influence the industrial landscape and further propel advancements in railway engineering while also helping to preserve Scotland’s rich heritage.”

Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.