The modernisation of the Glasgow Subway is moving ahead with the formal procurement of new rolling stock and signalling due to begin before the end of 2011. Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is upgrading the network (affectionately know as the Clockwork Orange), including the introduction of new hi-tech driverless trains.
Discussions have already taken place with suppliers representing a cross section of the industry – including those associated with the London Underground, the Manchester Metro, the New York Subway, Boston’s light railway and the Dallas DART.
Work at Hillhead Station, one of the busiest on the network, began in July marking the beginning of the overhaul of the world’s third oldest undergound metro system. Plans to revamp all 15 stations include new escalators and integrated ‘smartcard’ ticketing along with revised staffing levels and working practices.
There has been significant interest from potential suppliers in tendering for SPT contracts for new trains. There is no ‘off the shelf’ rolling stock design available that would be able to operate within the unique dimension of the Glasgow Subway’s tunnels. However a number of companies have stated that it is possible to utilise existing technology albeit within a revised train design.
SPT will keep the system operational while the modernisation takes place and it will be possible to carry out a phased introduction of the new fleet and signalling alongside that of the existing trains. Part of the modernisation process will also see staffing levels reduced by 20% (65 posts), it is anticipated that this will be achieved through voluntary severance, retirement and retraining/redeployment.
SPT Chairman Jonathan Findlay said:
“SPT began a major restructure over a year ago to streamline what we do and to better focus on delivering for our customers. Changes from the top down have already brought about £3million worth of savings, but there is still more work to do.
“We are on the brink of delivering a significant legacy for Glasgow, namely the much-needed modernisation of the Subway, against the backdrop of a toughening financial climate.
“We’ve always been clear that in delivering a world class system fit for the future, we would have to align that with world class flexible working practices.
“Our proposals are subject to consultation with unions and employees and I accept that difficult decisions have to be made.
“However, there is an opportunity to save a further million pounds for the public purse while dramatically improving the service we provide and that cannot be ignored.”