Argyle Line facts for kids

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      Argyle Line
Class 318 no.318257 at Glasgow Central low level
Overview
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale West Dunbartonshire
Glasgow
South Lanarkshire
North Lanarkshire
Scotland
Termini Balloch / Dalmuir / Milngavie
Lanark / Larkhall / Cumbernauld / Motherwell / Whifflet
Stations 47
Services 4
Operation
Opened 1979 by British Rail
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Abellio ScotRail
Rolling stock Class 318, Class 320, Class 334, Class 380
Technical
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)

The Argyle Line is a suburban railway located in West Central Scotland. It connects the Lanarkshire towns of Lanark, Larkhall and Motherwell to West Dunbartonshire via central Glasgow using sub-surface running. It takes its name from Glasgow's Argyle Street, under which a significant section of the line runs via a cut-and-cover tunnel. The line was developed by Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive and British Rail.

The term "Argyle Line" is loosely used in two contexts:

  • to describe an urban passenger train service; and
  • to describe a length of railway infrastructure.

The train service extends considerably beyond the Argyle Line infrastructure, connecting the suburban areas of North Clydeside with Motherwell, Larkhall and Lanark.

Service pattern

On Mondays to Saturdays, the off peak service each hour is:

  • two trains between Larkhall and Milngavie
  • two trains between Lanark and Glasgow Central via Bellshill
  • one train between Motherwell and Dalmuir via Blantyre and Yoker
  • one train between Milngavie and Cumbernauld via Blantyre
  • one train between Cumbernauld and Dalmuir via Blantyre and Yoker
  • one train between Motherwell and Dalmuir via Whifflet and Singer
  • one train between Whifflet and Dalmuir via Singer

Most services terminating at Motherwell return in the 'opposite' direction. i.e. a train from Blantyre continues via Whifflet (formerly Bellshill) and vice versa.

On Sundays, the hourly service is:

  • one train between Motherwell and Balloch via Whifflet and Yoker;
  • one train between Lanark and Glasgow Central via Bellshill
  • two trains between Motherwell and Milngavie via Blantyre
  • one train between Motherwell and Glasgow Central via Bellshill.

Historical service patterns

At opening November 1979

  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dumbarton Central via Bellshill
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dumbarton Central via Blantyre
  • 2 tph Motherwell - Partick via Bellshill
  • 2 tph Motherwell - Partick via Blantyre
  • 1 tph Milngavie - Lanark (limited stop)

Monday - Saturday (2006/2007)

  • 2 tph Larkhall - Dalmuir via Singer (Limited Stop)
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Milngavie via Blantyre
  • 1 tph Lanark - Milngavie via Holytown and Blantyre
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dalmuir via Bellshill and Yoker
  • 1 tph Lanark - Dalmuir via Shieldmuir, Bellshill and Yoker
  • Peak Services to Coatbridge Central and Carstairs

Sunday (2006/2007)

  • 2 tph Motherwell - Balloch via Blantyre and Yoker
  • 1 tph Lanark - Milngavie via Shieldmuir and Bellshill
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Milngavie via Bellshill

Monday - Saturday (2007/2008)

  • 2 tph Larkhall - Dalmuir via Singer (Limited Stop)
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Milngavie via Blantyre
  • 1 tph Lanark - Milngavie via Holytown and Blantyre
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dalmuir via Bellshill and Yoker
  • 1 tph Lanark - Dalmuir via Shieldmuir, Bellshill and Yoker
  • Peak services to Coatbridge Central and Carstairs

Sunday (2007/2008)

  • 2 tph Motherwell - Balloch via Blantyre and Yoker
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Milngavie via Bellshill
  • 1 tph Lanark - Milngavie via Shieldmuir and Bellshill
  • 1 tph Larkhall - Partick (Limited Stop)

Monday - Saturday (2016)

Southeastbound:

  • 1 tph Dalmuir - Motherwell via Yoker and Whifflet
  • 1 tph Dalmuir - Whifflet via Yoker
  • 1 tph Milngavie - Motherwell via Hamilton
  • 1 tph Milngavie - Cumbernauld via Hamilton and Motherwell
  • 2 tph Glasgow Central - Lanark via Bellshill and Shieldmuir
  • 2 tph Dalmuir - Larkhall via Singer (all stations except Bridgeton and Dalmarnock)

Northwestbound:

  • 2 tph Lanark - Glasgow Central via Shieldmuir and Bellshill
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dalmuir via Hamilton and Yoker
  • 1 tph Cumbernauld - Dalmuir via Motherwell, Hamilton and Yoker
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dalmuir via Whifflet and Singer
  • 1 tph Whifflet - Dalmuir via Singer
  • 2 tph Larkhall - Milngavie (all stations except Dalmarnock and Bridgeton)
  • Peak services to Carstairs

Sunday (2016) (both directions)

  • 2 tph Motherwell - Milngavie via Hamilton
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Balloch via Whifflet and Yoker
  • 1 tph Lanark - Glasgow Central via Shieldmuir Bellshill
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Glasgow Central via Bellshill
  • 1 tph Larkhall - Balloch via Yoker

Initial service pattern

From the opening by British Rail in November 1979, the basic weekday service was one train per hour from Dumbarton to the Hamilton Circle (anticlockwise), and one train from Dumbarton to Hamilton Circle (clockwise, including Newton), two trains per hour from Dalmuir to Hamilton Circle (anticlockwise) and two trains per hour to Hamilton Circle (clockwise, including Newton), and one train per hour between Milngavie and Lanark (non-stop from Argyle Street to Motherwell).

For a few years from the re-opening, the northbound West Highland sleeping car train from London Euston used the route on Saturdays only. It was detached from another portion at Mossend and diesel-hauled via the Rutherglen & Coatbridge line.

Rolling stock

318 Motherwell
Class 318s are a common sight on the Argyle Line. 318257 is pictured at Motherwell.

At its opening, the rolling stock on the Argyle Line was Class 314 electric multiple units, which were then new. These were accompanied by a number of the older Class 303 "Blue Train" sets from the North Clyde route. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Class 311 trains also operated on this route. After the 303s were retired in 2002, the route was operated by a mixture of new Class 334 Alstom "Juniper" units, alongside a small number of 1980s vintage Class 318 trains cascaded from the Ayrshire routes, with the original Class 314 sets transferred to the Cathcart Circle.

The Argyle Line is operated by Class 320s and Class 318s with the occasional Class 334 appearing and Class 380 covering Lanark services that now run into Glasgow Central.

History

The Glasgow Central Railway under central Glasgow had been opened in 1886, connecting the Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire Railway at Maryhill Central and Stobcross Railway at Stobcross to the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway near Kirkhill, Rutherglen and Coatbridge Railway at Carmyle, Clydesdale Junction Railway and Polloc and Govan Railway at Rutherglen and Clydesdale Junction Railway at Newton. The line closed in 1964.

In November 1979, the Argyle Line was created, as joint venture by British Rail and the Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive (SPTE), by reopening most of the former route. However, the former Caledonian Railway route from Whiteinch was not to be re-opened, and a new connection with the former North British Railway route via Hyndland was created, incorporating a grade-separated junction with the Queen Street Low Level route.

A key part of the re-opening was the implementation of an intensive electrically operated passenger train service between Dalmuir and Milngavie, and Motherwell and Lanark. The service west of Partick was to be integrated with the existing North Clyde services on the Queen Street Low Level line. Outside of Glasgow's central area, the train service used sections of the North Clyde and West Coast Main Line (WCML).

Two stations were constructed for the re-opening of the line:

  • Argyle Street; this was entirely new, i.e. both the site and the construction. Due to its proximity to Glasgow Cross station, the latter was not re-opened.
  • Exhibition Centre station (called Finnieston until 1986); whilst this station was located only slightly to the west of the original Stobcross station on the Glasgow Central Railway, the only commonality between the two is the location of much of the eastbound platform (which was originally the westbound one).

On the central tunnel section, there are disused stations at Glasgow Green and at Glasgow Cross (adjacent to the Tollbooth), both constructed by the Glasgow Central Railway. The frontage of Glasgow Green station was demolished in March 2012, whilst the entrance to Glasgow Cross station has been turned into ventilation ducts, visible from the traffic island between Trongate and London Road.

Extensions

The Larkhall Line was opened as an extension to Argyle Line services in December 2005 by First Minister Jack McConnell. The line was the reopening of the Coalburn Branch and Mid Lanark Lines of the Caledonian Railway and it begins at Haughhead Junction, just east of Hamilton Central. Stations are located at Chatelherault, Merryton and Larkhall, where services terminate. The branch is single line throughout, with a crossing loop at Allanton.

In 2006, Network Rail announced tentative proposals to electrify the Rutherglen - Whifflet section, as part of a £1.4bn upgrade to Scotland's railways (these were confirmed in May 2013). The main benefits of this scheme is to provide an enhanced frequency for the Whifflet-Central routes, reduce conflicting moves on the WCML, and to provide an electric diversionary path for long distance WCML services. Electrification also would mean the Whifflet Line being added to the Argyle Line system with services through Glasgow Central Low Level to the western suburbs. This work was completed in time for the December 2014 timetable change and led to a timetable recast that saw Whifflet Line services replace those to/from Lanark in the service pattern through the core section via Central Low Level.

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