Cowlairs North Junction

Location type


Name and dates

Cowlairs North Junction (1876-)

Station code: CNJ National Rail
Opened on the Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway.
Opened on the Cowlairs North Junction to Cowlairs East Junction (North British Railway).


This junction is at the western point of a triangular junction. It opened in 1876 when a chord from Cowlairs East Junction opened. The chord is presently single but was double. It links the Glasgow, Dumbarton and Helensburgh Railway to the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway and is effectively a Glasgow bypass.

The chord opened two years after the lines to docks on the north bank opened - the Stobcross Railway for the Queens Dock and nearby goods and mineral yard - and to near shipyards - the Whiteinch Railway. It allowed traffic to travel to and from the docks, Dumbarton, Balloch and Helensburgh without requiring reversal at Cowlairs (or Sighthill Goods).

This chord was involved in the fortunes of the Kelvin Valley Railway mooted in 1873 and opened to Kilsyth [1st] from Kelvin Valley West Junction, near Kirkintilloch, in 1878. This eastern portion gave rise to the bulk of the traffic from collieries and the town of Kilsyth and the North British Railway had little interest in the western portion through to Maryhill East Junction being opened since it was unlikely to produce much traffic and duplicated the NBR route which had been facilitied with the opening of this short chord at Cowlairs. (See entry for Kelvin Valley Railway).

The curve became even more useful with the opening of Cadder Yard in 1901 when the original box of 1876 at Cowlairs North was replaced.

The chord is still open and generally does not carry a passenger service except during diversions.

The naming is a little odd, especially with Cowlairs West Junction being to the south east of this junction. Perhaps thinking in diagram terms with the Edinburgh-Glasgow being a west-east line and the Helensburgh route (and Forth and Clyde Junction Railway) being a northern route helps. The West Highland Railway opened in 1895, quite some years after the junction.

The signal box here was replaced around 1900 and replaced with Cowlairs Panel Box in 1956.




A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: Scotland - The Lowlands and the Borders v. 6 (Regional railway history series)

An Illustrated History of Glasgow's Railways

Glasgow Railway Memories

Glasgow Stations

Glasgow's Last Days of Steam

Rails Around Glasgow

The Railways of Glasgow: Post-Beeching

The Vanished Railways of Old Western Dunbartonshire (Britains Railways/Old Photos)