THE first of Glasgow’s new Subway fleet - which will make history as the first in the UK to run with no staff on board - has arrived for testing.
In a major milestone for operator Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), the arrival of the new trains will start the beginning of a testing programme by manufacturer Stadler to ensure the trains are fully fit for purpose. It is only after this extensive testing by Stadler that it will be handed over to SPT to enter passenger service.
SPT’s new fleet will be driverless similar to those on the Docklands Light Railway in London, but, in a UK first, they will also have no other staff routinely present in the carriages either.
SPT Chair, Councillor Dr Martin Bartos said: “This is a fantastic day for the Subway and for everyone involved in the delivery of the Subway modernisation programme. We are delighted to see the first new train in Glasgow. It’s a big day for the project team who have worked tirelessly to achieve this milestone for the organisation.”
The first of the new trains will now begin a lengthy, offline testing period while work continues to install the new communications and controls systems in stations and tunnels which is necessary for the trains to run in passenger service.
The new trains and communication and control systems are all part of the £288 million Subway modernisation programme which also includes a major refurbishment of the system’s 15 stations; a complete overhaul of the Victorian tunnel system; and replacement of the Subway’s main infrastructure including tracks and the ramps and turnouts section where the trains enter and exit the system.
Due to the dimensions of the Subway, the new train sets are the same length and size as the existing rolling stock. Inside passengers will now be able to walk the entire length of the train, and enjoy an open front view into the tunnels.
Two more new trains are due to be delivered by the end of the summer for the first phase of testing.
Work on the Subway Modernisation programme began in July 2011 with the refurbishment of Hillhead station.
To date, 11 stations out of 15 have now been refurbished, with another two (St George’s Cross and Cowcaddens) due to be finished by Summer 2019. Work on the last two stations (Kinning Park and West Street) will begin before the end of 2019.
As part of the modernisation programme, the Subway has also introduced Smartcard technology which is now being used by ScotRail and a number of bus operators across the West of Scotland transport network.
The Scottish Government has contributed £246million to the modernisation programme.