Trains could run 24 hours a day between Glasgow and Edinburgh during the COP26 climate conference in November following a request by the UK government.
Rail chiefs are examining the feasibility of a round-the-clock service because the sheer scale of the event will mean many of the 90,000 delegates and spectators travelling from outside Glasgow. Some sessions at the 26th Conference of the Parties are also expected to continue into the night and it is thought that using fleets of vehicles would not look good at an environmental summit.
The move could also act as a test bed for 24-hour trains serving events such as the Edinburgh Festival.
Planning is under way to also run trains earlier and later on other lines into Glasgow. Carriages could be switched from quieter services elsewhere in Scotland to provide more seats on Glasgow trains.
The work will build on the experience of more trains running in the city during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
ScotRail trains currently depart between Glasgow and Edinburgh from around 5:30am to midnight.
Chief Superintendent Eddie Wylie, divisional commander Scotland for British Transport Police, told a meeting of the Scottish Railways Policing Committee yesterday that a 24-hour Edinburgh-Glasgow train service was amongst plans for COP26.
He told The Scotsman after the meeting the request had been made by the Foreign Office.
A rail industry source confirmed: “It’s something that’s been suggested and which we are looking at to see if it’s feasible operationally.
“We’re also looking at keeping trains running a lot later than normal on other lines, such as the one which runs through Exhibition Centre station [where COP26 is being held].
“There will be so many people attending, they will not all be staying in Glasgow.
“Diplomats may also go on talking into the night and we will have to get them home in an environmentally-friendly way.
“A senior member of the maintenance team has been appointed to see what can be done.
“However, it may not be possible to run trains continuously for two weeks without a break for maintenance, as this is normally carried out at night.”
The UK government’s COP26 unit in the Cabinet Office declined to comment on the request for 24-hour trains.
A spokesman said: “We would like all delegates and attendees of COP26 to be able to use public transport where possible to reduce their impact on the environment.
“We are working with Transport Scotland on a single transport plan, which we’ll publish ahead of the event.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government’s transport agency said: “Public transport will be strengthened for COP26.
“Transport planning, which will be informed by the appropriate analysis, is still at an early stage.
“Details of any proposed service enhancements will be made public at an appropriate time.”
The agency said transport planners recognised the “pivotal” role that transport would play in ensuring the operational success of COP26.
It said transport planning structures brought all transport authorities, modes, operators and stakeholders together to develop a “single and robust” transport plan.
A ScotRail spokesperson said: “We’re currently engaged in the planning process for this worldwide event, with a focus on capacity in and out of Glasgow and will share more details once finalised.”