What might a £3 billion Glasgow Light Rail Network look like?

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clc

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The Scottish Government's Infrastrucure Plan includes the 'Glasgow Terminal Stations' project which has a cost estimate of £1.3 billion - £3 billion. The timescale for delivery is 'beyond 2019': http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/12/5962/5

The STPR describes potential components of the project including:-

'a Metro/Light Rapid Transit network across Glasgow comprising a mixture of conversion of heavy rail (e.g. part or all of the Cathcart Circle), lines on existing redundant infrastructure (e.g. Great Western Road / Botanic Gardens), new lines (e.g. Clyde Waterfront) and some on-road or next-to-road sections.'

'A Metro/Light Rapid Transit system could include new stations, improved service frequencies and improved access to and across central Glasgow. The system would be rolled out on a phased basis. The operational concept for the system using proven technology could be expanded to include a new crossing of the Clyde to around the Southern General Hospital and other lines to link areas not currently served by the heavy rail network.'

Other options include a heavy rail cross city tunnel which we've discussed many times before but I'm interested in people's thoughts on what a £3 billion light rail network might look like if that turns out to be the preferred strategy.
 
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thenorthern

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Light rail in Glasgow has been discussed before although I don't think it will ever happen.
 

moggie

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No doubt they'll have their eye on Manchester's excellent system but they may also cast an eye on Birmingham who have made very hard work of it. But talking of hard work, maybe Edinburgh is a lesson nearer home on how not to do it!
 

edwin_m

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There are various options for making a connection south of Central which would bring trams from converted lines out onto the street. A city centre route via Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street with a branch eastwards from the Queen Street area would tie together much of the city centre without too much duplication of heavy rail or Subway routes.

The other obvious option is a link along the Clyde to Renfrew. The proposed airport tram-train could connect to both of these, providing a fast service to a range of stops in the city centre as well as more local links.
 

Railsigns

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Is it just me who thinks conversion of the Cathcart Circle lines to light rail is a dreadful idea, meaning increased journey times, inferior passenger accommodation (especially compared to the Class 385) and loss of a useful diversionary route?

The sooner this one is nipped in the bud, the better, in my opinion.
 
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clc

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Is it just me who thinks conversion of the Cathcart Circle lines to light rail is a dreadful idea, meaning increased journey times, inferior passenger accommodation (especially compared to the Class 385) and loss of a useful diversionary route?

The sooner this one is nipped in the bud, the better, in my opinion.

Totally agree.
 

Altnabreac

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Is it just me who thinks conversion of the Cathcart Circle lines to light rail is a dreadful idea, meaning increased journey times, inferior passenger accommodation (especially compared to the Class 385) and loss of a useful diversionary route?

The sooner this one is nipped in the bud, the better, in my opinion.

+1 from me. The capacity loss from a 6 car 385 to a tram train would be quite extreme. Add in the drop in perceived (and actual) quality and you'd have a politically "Brave" project to sign off.
 

Carntyne

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Is it just me who thinks conversion of the Cathcart Circle lines to light rail is a dreadful idea, meaning increased journey times, inferior passenger accommodation (especially compared to the Class 385) and loss of a useful diversionary route?

The sooner this one is nipped in the bud, the better, in my opinion.

I agree too. How many of those calling for Cathcart Circle trams would be using them on a daily basis?
 

trei2k

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In agreement about this being a terrible idea. I'd like to see more focus on the areas without rail: the airport, Braehead, Queen Elizabeth University hospital, Silverburn etc etc.
 

gsnedders

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As far as I'm aware, the only reason why it's ever been proposed is to free up capacity at Central, and increasing capacity there would be… hard.
 

clc

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Presumably the initial city centre section would be a one way loop which from the Broomielaw would head up Oswald St to Hope St with a stop at Central Station (west entrance); turn right into West George St with a stop at Queen St Station; circumnavigate George Square and head west along St Vincent St; turn left into Renfield St; continue down Union St with a stop at Central (east entrance); then turn right back onto the Broomielaw.
 

edwin_m

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The centre of Glasgow includes a surprisingly steep hill with its summit at Blythswood Square, and the closer you get to this the steeper the streets are. From a very quick inspection of the contours, the steepest bit of Hope Street is around a 10% gradient. This is near the limit for trams and even if feasible would require all axles to be motored, which would be an extra cost particularly if gradients everywhere else were less than about 6%.

This was one reason I proposed a route via Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street. As well as being the heart of the pedestrianised shopping district and offering Subway interchanges, these are about the easiest route out to the north west in terms of gradient. I haven't thought too much though about how this would get across the M8 and further west, as I don't know that part of the city very well.
 

Timster83

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Like others, I struggle to see the advantage of the Cathcart Circle option. Also the logistics - would the light rail include the Neilston and Newton branches? Or just the circle itself?

Much better to aim at replacing the main bus arteries into the city centre. With Hope Street being horribly polluted it would be very welcome.

To be honest, I don't really see the case for building a light rail network centred on the city centre. Aside from replacing the main bus arteries into the city, all bases are largely covered.

What I'd like to see is more options for travelling between places outside the city centre. I'm near Croftfoot and I'd like to be able to travel to places like Giffnock, Silverburn, even East Kilbride and Braehead, without long and convoluted journeys.

I think an interchange station somewhere like Mount Florida would work quite well. With different branches going off e.g. City centre via Victoria Road, another along Kings Park and towards Cambuslang/East Kilbride, another heading past Merrylee and Netherauldhouse, ultimately going towards Silverburn.
 

David Emmott

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No doubt they'll have their eye on Manchester's excellent system but they may also cast an eye on Birmingham who have made very hard work of it. But talking of hard work, maybe Edinburgh is a lesson nearer home on how not to do it!

I'm not a regular user of Manchester's Metrolink, and the network is certainly now an impressive size. But I would hesitate to describe it as 'excellent' as it includes so much street running. Once it gets into the suburbs it might qualify as 'rapid transit' but it certainly isn't in the city centre. Tyne and Wear on the other hand, with its underground sections, is much more like it.

I think it was a pity that Merseyrail was expanded in the 1970s and yet remained a heavy rail network. A Tyne and Wear style system would have been much more flexible and cheaper to extend.
 

clc

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The centre of Glasgow includes a surprisingly steep hill with its summit at Blythswood Square, and the closer you get to this the steeper the streets are. From a very quick inspection of the contours, the steepest bit of Hope Street is around a 10% gradient. This is near the limit for trams and even if feasible would require all axles to be motored, which would be an extra cost particularly if gradients everywhere else were less than about 6%.

This was one reason I proposed a route via Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street. As well as being the heart of the pedestrianised shopping district and offering Subway interchanges, these are about the easiest route out to the north west in terms of gradient. I haven't thought too much though about how this would get across the M8 and further west, as I don't know that part of the city very well.

Another possible route avoiding Hope St would be to turn right from Oswald St into Argyle St with a stop at Central under the Heilman's umbrella; continue east along Argyle St then turn left into Queen St. The return route would be same as before with tram lines crossing at the Union St/Argyle St junction.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Line 1: Queen St Station - Central Station - Broomielaw (IFSD) - Pacific Quay (Media Quarter)- Govan (BAE Systems) - QE Hospital - Braehead - Renfrew
 

edwin_m

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I'm not a regular user of Manchester's Metrolink, and the network is certainly now an impressive size. But I would hesitate to describe it as 'excellent' as it includes so much street running. Once it gets into the suburbs it might qualify as 'rapid transit' but it certainly isn't in the city centre. Tyne and Wear on the other hand, with its underground sections, is much more like it.

It's a trade-off between low speed and accessibility. Passengers wanting a city centre destination can just alight from a tram onto the pavement rather than having to ascend one or more lifts or escalators from an underground station. This time saving offsets the loss from slower running on the street, as long as the delays on the street aren't too bad and most passengers using the system the city centre are boarding/alighting there. Trams are of course also much cheaper than underground railways!

The same might apply in Glasgow if a tram dropped people at a destination such as Buchanan Galleries rather than needing a fairly long walk from the train just to exit from Central Station and then another walk, Subway or shuttle bus to ultimate destination.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
As far as I'm aware, the only reason why it's ever been proposed is to free up capacity at Central, and increasing capacity there would be… hard.

This is certainly a reason. Another one would be operating cost, with lighter trams replacing very heavy trains which are quite inefficient with closely-spaced stations. From the passenger point of view the main benefit would be a through ride to various places in the centre rather than having to walk from or change at Central, but service frequency would probably increase as well if only to offset the lower capacity of each tram compared with a train. This isn't to say these reasons make it a good idea, just to point out some factors that might be under consideration when suggesting it.

Presumably wiring of Whifflet makes the Cathcart Circle less important as a diversionary route from the WCML. I suspect the lines out to Newton and Neilston would have to be converted to tram as well, unless the whole thing was tram-train which would increase complication and cost significantly.
 
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matchmaker

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The centre of Glasgow includes a surprisingly steep hill with its summit at Blythswood Square, and the closer you get to this the steeper the streets are. From a very quick inspection of the contours, the steepest bit of Hope Street is around a 10% gradient. This is near the limit for trams and even if feasible would require all axles to be motored, which would be an extra cost particularly if gradients everywhere else were less than about 6%.

This was one reason I proposed a route via Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street. As well as being the heart of the pedestrianised shopping district and offering Subway interchanges, these are about the easiest route out to the north west in terms of gradient. I haven't thought too much though about how this would get across the M8 and further west, as I don't know that part of the city very well.

When I were a mere lad we had things in Glasgow called trams, They coped with Hope Street fine! ;)
 

NotATrainspott

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At the very least conversion of the Cathcart Circle network to some form of metro has been officially mentioned as a possibility in various Scottish transport plans. I can see why some people might disagree with the concept but I don't think it would be the end of the world, particularly as both the Newton and Neilston lines are roughly paralleled by lines which will remain heavy rail. At the Neilston end of the line the population density drops off relatively soon after crossing the East Kilbride line, and then the line almost converges with the GSW after skirting the southern end of Barrhead. After tram-train conversion, the Neilston terminus could be extended using tram tracks towards an interchange station with the GSW, which would then ensure Neilston itself doesn't lose out. Williamwood station could be moved eastwards and platforms opened on the East Kilbride line to provide a new interchange there. Running trams up the Ayr Road to Newton Mearns could be another sweetener, as then there would be added convenience for passengers at both the suburban and city ends. If there are other areas where tram technology could allow a better service than rail ever could then these should absolutely be included in the overall conversion package, even if they happen a few years later once the service beds in.
 

clc

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Williamwood station could be moved eastwards and platforms opened on the East Kilbride line to provide a new interchange there..

Those lines are on different vertical alignments so a new interchange station is going to be expensive and I cant see it delivering much in the way of benefits to existing passengers. Plus there would be disbenefits for commuters from Clarkston, Busby, Thorntonhall, Hairmyers and East Kilbride who would have longer journey times due to having an additional stop on their route.
 

NotATrainspott

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Those lines are on different vertical alignments so a new interchange station is going to be expensive and I cant see it delivering much in the way of benefits to existing passengers. Plus there would be disbenefits for commuters from Clarkston, Busby, Thorntonhall, Hairmyers and East Kilbride who would have longer journey times due to having an additional stop on their route.

Maybe so. What I'm trying to get at is that tram-train conversion of the Cathcart Circle/Newton/Neilston lines could be combined with other changes so that the total benefit more than exceeds the costs. Not having a proper mainline EMU service isn't as much of a problem if you don't have to walk anywhere near as far or wait as long to use the service.
 

clc

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So we have an obvious tram route south of the river to Renfrew but what about the north bank? You'd get good demand from the Hydro/SECC, Riverside Museum and Glasgow Harbour. And there's huge tracts of development land along that corridor awaiting regeneration. The line could extend as far as Yoker serving Yarrows shipyard.

So we have:-
Line 1: Queen St Station - Central Station - Broomielaw (IFSD) - Pacific Quay (Media Quarter)- Govan (BAE Systems) - QE Hospital - Braehead - Renfrew

Line 2: Broomielaw - SECC/Hydro - Riverside Museum - Glasgow Harbour - Whiteinch - Yarrows - Yoker.

Now I don't know how feasible this next idea would be but Renfrewshire council is planning to build a £78 million swing bridge between Renfrew and Yoker. I wonder if this could be adapted to carry trams? If so, you could join up the two lines to create a loop, providing improved connectivity between the north and south banks.
 

edwin_m

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The Scottish Government's Infrastrucure Plan includes the 'Glasgow Terminal Stations' project which has a cost estimate of £1.3 billion - £3 billion. The timescale for delivery is 'beyond 2019': http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/12/5962/5

Wanting to refer this to a colleague (as neither of us had heard of it) I've just followed this link and I can't find the quoted scheme on either the HTML or the PDF versions. Is this the correct document?
 

clc

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Wanting to refer this to a colleague (as neither of us had heard of it) I've just followed this link and I can't find the quoted scheme on either the HTML or the PDF versions. Is this the correct document?

Yes, it's below 'High Speed Rail' in*Annex A: Projected Project Pipeline
 
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edwin_m

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Yes, it's below 'High Speed Rail' in*Annex A: Projected Project Pipeline

So it is, but no mention of light rail. I guess we have to go back to STPR for the detail, but that's now several years old and from what I've heard more recently there's no appetite for a light rail solution.
 

clc

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So it is, but no mention of light rail. I guess we have to go back to STPR for the detail, but that's now several years old and from what I've heard more recently there's no appetite for a light rail solution.

The Edinburgh fiasco is probably still preying on Ministerial minds. Give it a few years and light rail could be back on the agenda.
 
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