Cowlairs Tunnel

Location type


Name and dates

Cowlairs Tunnel (1842-)

Where: Glasgow City, Scotland
Opened on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway.


Cowlairs Tunnel (also known as Queen Street High Level Tunnel) runs north from Glasgow Queen Street High Level half way up the Cowlairs Incline to Pinkston. It is a double track tunnel 999 yds long.

The floor of the tunnel was lowered in 2016 to allow electrification of Queen Street and the lines to Edinburgh Waverley, Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa.

The tunnel was required due to the Forth and Clyde Canal insisting the line pass under rather than over the canal. (See Cowlairs Incline.)

There have been several tunnel roof collapses over the years, such as one in 1879 which closed the tunnel to traffic.

There are two airshafts, both of which are now covered.

Cowlairs Tunnel signal box closed in 1924.




Queen Street High Level Tunnel


  /  /1888Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway
Improvement to Glasgow Queen Street High Level station complete. The tunnel mouth at the foot of the Cowlairs Tunnel was opened out in preparation for the opening of a second (eastern) bore, and although the portal was built the tunnel was not.


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 Edinburgh's Railways

An Illustrated History of Glasgow's Railways

An Illustrated History of Glasgow's Railways

Central Glasgow 1893: Lanarkshire Sheet 6.10a (Old Ordnance Survey Maps of Lanarkshire)

Edinburgh ( Western New Town) 1877: Edinburgh Large Scale Sheet 34 (Old Ordnance Survey Maps - Yard to the Mile)

Edinburgh (Rail Centres)

Edinburgh (Rail Centres)
Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Guidebook (Auld Kirk Museum Publications)
Edinburgh To Inverkeithing.: including The Port Edgar, North Queensferry And Rosyth Dockyard Branches. (Scottish Main Lines.)

Edinburgh Waverley

Edinburgh Waverley Station Through Time
Edinburgh's Transport: The Early Years v. 1
Glasgow Stations

Glasgow's Last Days of Steam

Haymarket Motive Power Depot Edinburgh: A History of the Depot, Its Work and Locomotives, 1842-2010

Landranger (66) Edinburgh, Penicuik & North Berwick (OS Landranger Map)

Last Trains: Edinburgh and South East Scotland v. 1

Memories of Steam from Glasgow to Aberdeen

Memories of Steam from Glasgow to Aberdeen

On Either Side, 1939: The Train between London King's Cross & Edinburgh Waverley, Fort William, Inverness & Aberdeen (Old House)

Rails Around Glasgow

The Next Stop: Inverness to Edinburgh, station by station

This Magnificent Line (the story of the Edinburgh-Glasgow Railway

Vanished Railways of West Lothian