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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day

Trade and Communications


By Malcolm Reed

Queen Street Station Glasgow is the only British city besides London where more peak hour commuters travel into the central area by train than by bus, reflecting the railway network's important influence on the shape and economy of the conurbation. As the principal hub of the Scottish railway system, Glasgow inherited four city-centre passenger termini from the Victorian era. These main-line stations – Buchanan Street, Queen Street, St Enoch, and Central – were also served by a dense suburban network, supplemented by the Subway, Glasgow's underground railway.

Glasgow Central Station This local network saw some contraction from the 1930s onwards because of tram and bus competition. Nevertheless, post-war planning studies envisaged a continuing major role for railways in regional passenger transport in west central Scotland and these studies led to the electrification of much of the suburban system starting in 1960 with the Airdrie-Helensburgh line and its branches. This modernisation was however accompanied during the 1960s by other service withdrawals and the closure of two of Glasgow's terminals, leaving only Queen Street and Central. Glasgow Central is now the busiest Network Rail station outside London.

The Greater Glasgow (later Strathclyde) Passenger Transport Authority and Executive were created in the early 1970s to oversee public transport across the entire region. This gave fresh impetus to railway development in the area, beginning with the reopening of the Partick-Rutherglen route in 1979. Following further extensions and improvements the Strathclyde system now handles around 40 million passengers annually. In addition, the Subway, which was completely modernised in the late 1970s, carries more than 14 million passengers each year.

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