DRIVERLESS trains will run on the Glasgow Subway from 2021 following the announcement of a £200 million deal to overhaul the network.
Hitachi-owned Italian firm Ansaldo and Swiss company Stadler Bussnang have been awarded the contract to supply new trains and equipment.
The trains will be open plan throughout for extra space, with passengers able to see along the tunnel at either end because there will be no separate drivers’ cabs, as Scotland on Sunday revealed last year.
New signalling will enable trains to run every three minutes compared to four at present, while consideration will be given to running them later at night and for longer at weekends.
• READ MORE: http://www.scotsman.com/news/transport/hitachi-on-track-to-win-200m-glasgow-subway-train-contract-1-4039081|Hitachi on track to win £200m Glasgow Subway train contract}
The trains will initially have drivers when introduced from 2020, until the £288 million Subway upgrade is completed in 2021.
This is for safety measures such as platform screens which open when a train stops, like on some London Underground lines.
Subway operator Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has not said whether there will be other staff on trains, while the 33 drivers may be redeployed.
It said: “Detailed duties for all operations staff once we move to a new unattended train operations system will be developed as part of our safety case submission.”
The current system is partially automated, with drivers starting trains off and controlling doors.
The Subway’s biggest upgrade for 36 years will also enable people in wheelchairs to use it for the first time, but only to and from St Enoch Station in the city centre and Govan, which will have lifts fitted.
• READ MORE: Driverless cabs plan for Glasgow Subway
Nearly 13 million a year use the 120-year-old system, which is the world’s third oldest underground railway after London and Budapest.
The trains will have to be specially built because the six-mile circle’s gauge – the distance between the rails – is 20cm narrower than standard.
SPT said the consortium’s bid offered the “best value and solution option”. It would not say whether a rival group involving Edinburgh tram builder Caf had pulled out.
Chair Jonathan Finlay said: “The new rolling stock will provide the travelling public with a much improved journey experience, and the system will be more flexible in terms of frequency and availability.”
Pat McIlvogue, of Unite, which represents Subway staff, welcomed the upgrade but added: “There are questions around the health and safety of our members and the public that needs to be addressed.”
An SPT spokeswoman said: “The unions have been kept fully informed and will continue to be consulted on all aspects of modernisation.”