Plans to restore hidden platform beneath Glasgow Central ‘on right track’, say Network Rail

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Plans to restore a hidden derelict platform beneath Glasgow Central are “on the right track”, Network Rail has revealed as Scotland’s busiest station prepares to star in a new BBC series.

The platform - which closed 55 years ago - has been a highlight of the popular behind-the-scenes tours of the station.

Paul Lyons, historian and tour guide at Glasgow Central Station.''Picture: John Devlin

Paul Lyons, historian and tour guide at Glasgow Central Station.''Picture: John Devlin

Now, it could be returned to how it looked when the low-level section opened in 1896, complete with a steam train on re-laid rails.

Station manager Susan Holden said a museum of artefacts found at the station was also proposed.

Souvenirs would also be produced for those taking the tours, which have attracted 44,000 people in four years.

She told The Scotsman: “Things are on the right track.”

A Network Rail spokesman added: “We still need to put a business plan through to get funding confirmed.”

The line - which runs underground through the city centre - was described as “sombre, sulphurous and Plutonian” by the writer C Hamilton Ellis in 1938.

Paul Lyons, the station’s historian, who leads the tours, said the platform plans included a Victorian-style newspaper stall with period cigarettes like Capstan and Woodbine, and a reproduction Caledonian Railway booking office.

Network Rail apprentices could be drafted in to lay tracks as part of their training, together with spare ballast.

Heritage railway groups have been approached for a steam engine and old carriages.

Mr Lyons said: “It would be like taking a step back in time, like in the old street inside the Riverside Museum.

“So much more can be done here and will be done.

“The tours are very important as social history - they are more than a tour of a railway station. We have to continue the legacy of the people who used the station.”

Those taking the tour have included former Celtic owner Fergus McCann, actor Christian Slater, and Michael Palin.

However, plans for the tours to once more include the station’s glass roof, believed to be the biggest in Europe, have been shelved. This is due to health and safety regulations because there is no lift.

Network Rail said: “The roof is unlikely to become a tour as it would be very hard to recover someone if they had a medical emergency while up there.”

The derelict platform is in a disused section of the low-level station at Central, which closed in 1964.

Two of the other platforms re-opened when the cross-city Argyle line was restored in 1979, with trains now passing feet away from the old platform, which remains out of sight of passengers.

The site is featured in a six-part series, Inside Glasgow Central, which starts on the new BBC Scotland channel on Sunday.

It comes months before the station celebrates its 140th birthday in August.

The documentaries, produced by STV, follow station staff in their dealings with passengers, such as football fans and concert-goers heading to Hampden Park, and demob-happy teenagers going to the beach.

One worker admitted to hating the concourse piano because the musicians were either awful or their selection of tunes repetitive.

Shift station manager Drew Burns joked of his dislike of visiting steam engines - for blackening the roof.