New trains for the Clockwork Orange

The Glasgow Subway is getting a major upgrade over the next two years, with a fleet of 17 new trains.

They are expected to be in service in 2023 as part of a £288m upgrade plan including platform edge doors, tunnel improvements and resignalling, and will be the first trains to operate in the UK with Unattended Train Operation (UTO). The 17 units are being built by Stadler & have a capacity of 310 passengers.

A purpose built testing area adjacent to the main depot has been created on the old Govan branch line. There will be a test area complete with mock up platform including edge doors. The testing cannot take place before delivery as the Subway operates on 4ft gauge, rather than standard gauge.

Three units were initially delivered and initial testing commenced in 2019. Production paused for modifications after initial testing and further units are now being delivered. At the time of writing, 4 units were visible in the depot. Currently, testing on the Subway is taking place overnight, with the first units expected to be in operation in 2023, as driver operated, moving to Unattended Train Operation within 2 years.

The 10.5km circuit has 15 stations, takes 24 minutes to complete the loop and carries 13 million passengers a year. The upgrade work will increase the frequency of services, currently at 4 minute intervals, with the potential to reduce it to 90 seconds.

The system originally opened in 1896 and is the third oldest subway system in the world, after London and Budapest. Until the 1930’s it was cable hauled, with trains using a gripper system that clamped onto a continuously moving cable, powered by a steam boiler and engine in a purpose built facility adjacent to Shields Road Station. The whole system converted to electric traction in the 1930’s and continued to operate uninterrupted until 1977, when it closed for 3 years for a complete track renewal, and other major upgrades including an entirely new stock of trains. The depot access was upgraded, so trains could be driven off the main lines and into the depot. Previously, the only way to get them on and off the track was to crane them through a purpose made hole in the depot floor.

A more in depth look at the new trains can be found at Rail Engineer

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