Glasgow Central

Location type

Major station

Name and dates

Glasgow Central (1879-)

Where: Glasgow City, Scotland
Opened on the Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway).
Opened on the Glasgow Central Station Extension (Caledonian Railway).
Open on the G and SW Main Line.
Open on the Inverclyde Lines.
Open on the Paisley Canal Line.
Open on the Cathcart Circle.
Open on the Neilston Line.
Open on the Newton Line.
Open on the East Kilbride Line.
Open on the Glasgow to Ayr and Stranraer.
Open on the Carlisle to Glasgow.
Open on the Edinburgh to Glasgow via Shotts.
Open on the Glasgow to Lanark.


This is the busiest station in Scotland. It was established by the Caledonian Railway in 1879 and was hugely expanded in 1901-5.

It is a 15 platform station (17 if those still open at Glasgow Central Low Level are included).

The land the station was built on was already occupied before it opened, largely by bonded warehousing, iron warehouses and grain storehouses.

When opened it was an 8 platform station, numbered 1-8 from west to east. 8 was somewhat shorter then the rest as it had the offices, toilets and waiting rooms to the north. Permanent booking offices were added in 1882. The architect was Robert Rowand Anderson, the frontage being built in 1885.

9, added in 1889, was a very narrow platform. The lines fanned out over Argyle Street and crossed the River Clyde on a four track viaduct to Bridge Street. Such was the lack of siding space at first that one of the four lines was initially sacrificed as a carriage siding. A few sidings were provided by the 1890s. These platforms are often described as short but, with the exception of the 1&2, the present day platforms are around the same length, stretching from the circulating area south of Gordon Street to Argyle Street.

A large glazed roof was built covering the area from Gordon Street south to Argyle Street.

Below the station, at ground level, was a storage and station servicing area.

The approach to the original station was controlled by Argyll [sic] Street Junction and Ann Street signal boxes. The Ann Street box was on the east side of the line and just south of the Ann Street bridge. Opposite this box were three sidings at a loading bank, the sidings being approached from the north. At the south end of the Clyde Viaduct was Clyde Place Signal Box, on the west side of the line and south of Clyde Place itself.

Argyll Street Junction and Ann Street boxes closed with the first re-organisation and were replaced with a new 'Glasgow Central' box in 1889. This much larger box was also on the east side but to the north of the Ann Street bridge. Clyde Place box was replaced in 1890. This initial re-organisation brought the four track viaduct into proper use as a second set of through lines were added on the east side of Bridge Street meaning that the line south was now quadruple track. This was the re-organisation which allowed the extra platform, number 9.

Glasgow Central Low Level opened below ground level in 1896. This station runs out west from under the high level station almost as far as West Campbell Street below Argyle Street.

The major rebuilding of 1901-5 not only extended the station to the west but had a complete re-organisation of the existing platforms, raising of the existing bridge, the addition of a new larger bridge over the Clyde, a new approach to passenger flows and a complete re-signalling resulting in a new Glasgow Central box, a power frame, being erected between the Clyde Viaduct [Glasgow Central] [1st] and Clyde Viaduct [Glasgow Central]. Signal gantries crossed the approach lines. The architects of the rebuilt station were Donald A Matheson and James Miller.

Platform 1&2 was now on the east side (platform numbering was reversed). This long platform reaches south as far as just short of the Broomielaw Quay. The buffer ends of platforms 3-8 are staggered, those further to the west being progressively further south. 9-13 were much longer platforms built in the new area to the west of the existing area and covered with a new glazed roof. The south end of platform 11/12 was the fish, fruit and milk platform, with two short platforms on either side.

At platform level are dark wooden concourse buildings, with curved shapes to allow crowds to 'flow' round, including the large train departure indicator boards, at first floor level.

This extension brought the station very close to the Broomielaw Quay, the quayside from which paddle steamers headed down the River Clyde to numerous Firth of Clyde destinations (famously 'doon the watter'). A baggage lift was added, served by its own short platform, at the south end of the station and west side of the line.

A considerable length of Argyle Street was now covered by the station and became known as the 'Hielanman's Umbrella', a gathering place for Highlandmen. (It's perhaps no coincidence that St Columba's Gaelic Church was nearby to the north and an important tram routes junction just to the east.) From this there were passages giving access up to the main station and down to the low level station. (The famous Clyde Model Dockyard, long associated with the Argyle Arcade, was briefly located here in the 1970s just before its closure).

The station remained largely as rebuilt. In the 1960s (1960-61) the original approach bridge was removed and new girders fitted to the east side for the station approach (the south end of platform 1&2 was slewed a little west). The station was resignallled and platforms and approach lines electrified.

The low level station closed to passengers in 1964. It was to re-open in 1979 as an important station on the Argyle Line.

The train departures board was replaced with an electronic board in the 1980s.

Two new platforms were added in 2010 in anticipation of the new railway to Glasgow Airport (which did not come to fruition). These platforms occupy the former taxi rank on the west side of the station between what were platforms 11 and 12.


With the selling off of former British Transport Hotels, former railway hotels, in 1983 the Central Hotel, built between 1882 and 1884, extended in 1890, became independent of the railway.

Glasgow Grand Central

Tours of the seldom seen parts of the station are available Glasgow Central Station Tours .


Station Terminus

External links

Canmore site record
NLS Collection OS map of 1892-1914
NLS Collection OS map of 1944-67


Gaelic name: Glaschu Mheadhain
Listing: A

Chronology Dates

  /  /1865Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
The Caledonian Railway buys land at Blythswoodholm Lands (the lower part of the Blythswood Estate, west of Glasgow's old town centre and west of the later Glasgow Central). The land was taken for use for a new station and line to be built on the north bank west of Glasgow.
  /  /1873Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Gordon Street Station, opened as Glasgow Central, and Gordon Street Lines authorised.
  /  /1875Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Authorisation to expand and alter the existing Bridge Street station, largely in connection with the opening of Glasgow Central. Original proposed route of Gordon Street Lines abandoned.
  /  /1878Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Eglinton Street Shed, a four road brick locomotive shed with 42ft turntable, opened to reduce light engine movements to Polmadie Shed via the congested Bridge Street Junction to Gushetfaulds section. The new shed was a sub-shed of Polmadie. Opened in anticipation of Glasgow Central.
01/10/1878Uddingston Junction to Fullwood Junction (Caledonian Railway)
Uddingston Junction to Fullwood Junction opened for goods. This new line would allow trains from the Shotts route to approach Glasgow Central (under construction) rather than Buchanan Street.
01/10/1878Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Original bridge across the Clyde from Bridge Street to Glasgow Central completed, Clyde Viaduct [Glasgow Central] [1st].
14/10/1878Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Connection at Bridge Street opened - related to the opening of Glasgow Central.
01/05/1879Uddingston Junction to Fullwood Junction (Caledonian Railway)
Mossend branch opened for passengers from Uddingston Junction to Fullwood Junction. Associated with the impending opening of Glasgow Central and the diversion of trains from Edinburgh Princes Street via Shotts from Buchanan Street.
12/07/1879Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
New portions of Bridge Street opened, in connection with the opening of Glasgow Central.
01/08/1879Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Glasgow Central opened. Initially serving westbound trains over the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway .
01/09/1879Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Glasgow Central fully opened. Trains for England via the Caledonian Railway are transferred from Glasgow Buchanan Street. The service to Edinburgh Princes Street is also transferred. South Side [CR] closed.
  /  /1881Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Central Station Hotel, at Glasgow Central, authorised.
19/06/1883Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Glasgow Central - Central Station Hotel opened.
06/04/1885Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Cathcart Road station opened, a replacement for South Side [CR], closed some years previously when replaced by Glasgow Central.
  /  /1894Glasgow Central Railway
Authorisation to widen line under Glasgow Central - allowing the four platform Glasgow Central Low Level.
  /  /1899Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Authorisation of the enlargement of Glasgow Central and widening of the lines south to Bridge Street along with a new Clyde Viaduct [Glasgow Central].
01/06/1904Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Extension to Glasgow Central and Clyde Viaduct [Glasgow Central] opened.
  /  /1906Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Glasgow Central station enlarged and a massive new bridge across the River Clyde opened, Clyde Viaduct [Glasgow Central].
05/04/1908Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
New signal box partially opens at the expanded Glasgow Central.
03/05/1908Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
New signal box comes into full operation at Glasgow Central.
01/05/1972Rutherglen and Coatbridge Branch (Caledonian Railway)
Coatbridge Central to Rutherglen Junction re-opened for Glasgow Central to Perth workings
04/05/1974Rutherglen and Coatbridge Branch (Caledonian Railway)
Coatbridge Central to Rutherglen Junction ceases to be used for Glasgow Central to Perth workings.
06/05/1974Caledonian Railway Wishaw and Coltness Railway Clydesdale Junction Railway Polloc and Govan Railway Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Glasgow Central to Carlisle electrification complete.
  /  /1984Girvan and Portpatrick Junction Railway
Glasgow Central to Stranraer DMUs withdrawn and replaced with locomotive hauled SEALINK liveried slam-door stock.
11/12/1994Glasgow Central Railway
The River Kelvin bursts its banks and floods the disused tunnels from Kelvin Bridge to Stobcross, where it floods the open Argyle Line railway. (Alternative date 9th.) The route through Glasgow Central Low Level is closed between Partick and Rutherglen and trains are diverted onto the Sunnyside Junction to Whifflet section of the Monkland and Kirkintilloch Railway for access to Motherwell. This remains in operation for around nine months. Units 314208 and 314212 are trapped in the floodwater at Glasgow Central where the water reached half way up the sides of the carriages.
  /06/1997Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
At an estimated cost of £25M work to re-glaze Glasgow Central with reinforced wired safety glass begins. The work will be considerable: 50,000 panes will be replaced over the 6.8 acre area, 44,226 square metres of lattice steelwork will be repainted and 2.8 miles of guttering replaced or repaired. To protect passengers a safety deck will be erected over the platforms and concourse at a height of 10 metres.
A Eurostar train (set UN2) was dragged from North Pole Depot to Polmadie Depot for gauging trials. The proposed service from Glasgow Central to Paris for late 1997 never began.
  /09/2000Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Completion of the £35M re-glazing of Glasgow Central's trainshed which began three years earlier.
05/01/2004Glasgow Central Station (Caledonian Railway)
Class 390 Pendolino 390004 'Virgin Scot' arrives at Glasgow Central from London, becoming the first Penolino to cover the whole length of the West Coast Main Line.
First Group takes over the ScotRail franchise to create First ScotRail. The first service ran from Glasgow Central to Gourock.
04/12/2005Caledonian Railway
Network Rail's upgrade of line north from Preston to Glasgow Central will allow 125mph running.
09/11/2007Glasgow Airport Rail Link
The 2014 Commonwealth Games are awarded to Glasgow, partly due to the planned new Airport link to Glasgow Central.
27/09/2009Glasgow Airport Rail Link
The concourse cab rank and car park at Glasgow Central (high level) is closed to allow development of additional platforms 12 and 13. These platforms were originally planned as part of the now cancelled Glasgow Airport Rail Link.
04/07/2011Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway
Class 318s withdrawn from Glasgow Central - Ayr service.

News items

06/12/2023Transport Minister takes first electric passenger train on Glasgow-Barrhead line [Network Rail]
23/11/2023Power cut at Glasgow Central causes train service chaos [STV News]
10/11/2023£5m Property Upgrade for Glasgow Central Station [Network Rail]
30/10/2023New timetable delivers electric trains between Barrhead and Glasgow [ScotRail]
26/10/2023£13.3m upgrade for customer information in Scotland's busiest stations [Network Rail]
24/10/2023New electric bus link service removes emissions in Glasgow [ScotRail]
12/10/2023All Glasgow Central Station services facing major disruption after engineering fault [Glasgow Live]
30/09/2023Nostalgic pictures show Glasgow Central Station in the 1900s [Daily Record]
26/09/2023Gordon Street outside Glasgow Central Station closed due to debris falling from building [STV]
13/09/2023Glasgow Central: Avanti West Coast proposing to slash staff [The Herald]


An Illustrated History of Glasgow's Railways