The 1970s Modernisation

How and Why the Underground was upgraded

Why Modernisation?

To answer that one, you will need to look back to March 1968 when the Greater Glasgow Transport Study (GGTS) was published. Glasgow Corporation Transport (GCT) commissioned a report looking into the capacity of the Underground - At this point the Transport Act 1968 that formed the Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Authority (GGPTA) Which took over the running of the Underground from GCT

At this point the trains that were running dated from the 1890’s and it had become difficult to find spares to keep the system operating, most of the spare parts came from the tram when they stop running in 1962

At the same time the newly formed GGPTA were in talks with British Rail (BR) to re-open a railway line to connect the south and the north of Glasgow (This later became the Argyle Line from Partick to Rutherglen)

The plan

Three options were suggested to the GGPTA

No 1 – Close the system
No 2 – Keep the system going for 5 more years
No 3 – To start a Modernisation of the system

By 1973 an agreement was reached between the GGPTA and BR to create an integrated transport network. In December 1973 an exhibition was arraigned to show what the new Underground and the new Argyle Line would look like. In 1974 the Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Order Confirmation Act was passed by the House of Commons (HoC)

The scope of the Upgrade was renewing all parts of the Underground apart from The Tunnels and the Substation Equipment

The main parts of the modernisation were

No1 – 33 new power cars
No2 – New signalling
No3 – New depot and tunnel access
No4 – new and refurbished station and Links with BR stations (Buchanan Street (BS) to Queen Street (GLQ) and Partick (PTK) to Partick (PTK) National Rail)
No5 – New Track (Retained 4ft gauge)
No6 – new automatic ticket machines, new CCTV and public address system
No7 – Renewal of power supply
No8 – New battery Locomotives

In 1976 it was planned to close one circle at a time for work to take place and the system to keep running, this plan was scrapped as it was found to be quicker to close the whole system to complete the work

Closing the Underground


The work that ended up closing the system early started at the Depot for the new turnout chamber. In February 1977 pile driving started on creating a roof for the chamber when the system was closed at night, the system closed on the 21st may 1977 one week earlier than planned as part of the tunnel roof collapsed

When the Underground Closed the GGPTE started a bus service – Service 66 covered the Inner Circle and service 99 the Outer Circle

The final stage was to clear the tunnels and stations of equipment that was planned to be reused and kept for museum use as road access to stations was not possible at all stations. In august 1977 a sale of equipment that was no longer needed was held and raised about £16,000


As part of the modernisation the original 15 Station buildings were demolished apart from St Enoch, Cessnock, kelvin Hall  and Hillhead. St Enoch station was converted to a travel centre for the GGPTE and then SPT and is now a coffee shop with two new entrances being built next to the original building and Hillhead retaining is original building. The original entrance still remains at Kelvinbridge station and is used as the station’s emergency exit, Govan station was converted into an interchange with connections with buses

Merkland Street closed to passengers during the modernisation works, this being replaced with a new station Partick and this was also created as in interchange with the new BR station also called Partick, both now on the same site

With Merkland Street now called Partick, Partick Cross was re-named Kelvin Hall, this was chosen due to how close it was to Kelvin Hall. Copland Road was also renamed Ibrox because of how close it was to Ibrox football stadium

All stations had island platforms and during the modernisation 6 stations had a second platform added (Govan, Ibrox, Hillhead, Partick, St Enoch and Buchanan Street) as they were considered the busiest station on the network. At the same time stations that had a glass roofs were all covered up though parts of the original glass roof can be seen at Kelvin Hall and Cessnock stations

At St Enoch the original station building was placed on stilts and the remaining ground removed to allow for new platforms to be added, this also allowed for a new level to be added housing a ticked office, other offices were added including staff facilities for drivers and an office for the BTP. The same was also done at Buchanan Street and Govan with new station being built. Bridge Street Station was used as the access point to the network for the replacement rails were lowered in to the tunnels.

During the works all station platforms were extended to 40 meters to allow for the new trains (apart from Cowcaddens and St Georges Cross). Escalators were also added at St Enoch, Buchanan Street, Cowcaddens, Partick, Govan and Shields Road

Museum Pieces

When the modernisation started the Glasgow Museum of Transport showed an interest in an underground display at their museum and cars No 39T, No1 and No 4. In Buchanan Street subway car No41 was displayed until the 2nd modernisation of the subway. Car No55 remained at the Subway depot and was used for testing and in 1996 left the depot for the first time since 1901 to be restored for the 1997 open day. In 2015 to create space the train was moved to the Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway, Beamish also received cars No6 No14 No15 No17 No21 and No30 to be used to help restore trams at the museum, all but car No 14 were scrapped in 1981 (Car No 14 may have been scrapped). Part of the substation between Merkland street and Copland road went to Summerlee Museum to help power the tramway, this was used until 2010.

Glasgow Museum of Transport also received other stations fixtures and fittings which can be viewed on their website

All images from STG archive – During the digitation of the photo archive, name of photographer went missing – if you are the photographer of any photo in this blog can you contact us on and we can give you credit to the photo