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Clydeside Stories: Trainspotting, the Glasgow Games remake

There is a train ticket that can be purchased which offers unlimited day travel around the Greater Glasgow area (110 stations in all), plus all-day use of the Subway for £6.30. So I bought one.

"It's a great little ticket," said the conductor on the Dalmuir to Motherwell train on Friday morning. "Not very many people know about it. Not even the locals. It can only be used after 9am but it'll take you right up to midnight and on weekends it can be used at any time."

A great little ticket? Not half. It's more than that: it's an accessible, affordable way to explore every part of Glasgow in detail at Games time. It is the exact definition of a discovery ticket.

Mid-morning, it was busy but only really in parts. Dalmarnock. Scotstounhill. The usual suspects. Once these were emptied I had the carriage to myself much of the time. The short hop from Blantyre to Newton was a feast for the eyes - all fields and the fleeting sight of a small but grand railway bridge. Blantyre station itself had unusual postmodern-looking railings, I noticed.

Travelling by train using this ticket - the Roundabout - is like seeing the city through a tourist's eyes. You can get to know places you haven't been to in the decade you've lived here, but the difference is that you have the knowledge that you can always find your way home.

It helps that I don't sound Scottish. People naturally assume I'm here temporarily and that I need extra help, so it was possible to get a glimpse of the way the people who are only fleetingly sharing our city are being treated during their visit. From what can be noted at Glasgow train stations, the verdict is: pretty fantastically.

When alighting at the more crowded stations, the attitude of Scotrail's staff is quite astounding. I tripped walking up the stairs in Argyle Street during a particularly hot spell and two attendants were by my side in seconds before I even knew what had happened. "Take your time," one said to me, quietly. "You've got all the time in the world."

Also in Argyle Street, there were staff identifying athletes, asking their nationality and then - into a megaphone - calling on the crowd to whoop and cheer for them. It worked: punters were smiling and receptive, and more than that, they were appreciative of the efforts staff are going to.

I overheard one woman complain about the noise and the heat and the crowds, then temper her words by saying: "But don't get me wrong, they've done well on the trains to get everyone on and off."

That's a bit of an understatement. It is no easy feat shepherding potentially thousands of people an hour through the stations safely and efficiently, let alone doing so with consummate cheer and charm.

There is no denying there have been issues. In particular, Central Station has shown signs of strain these Games, having recorded an increase of 65% more passengers than normal last Friday alone. It has meant frustrating delays for many. But for some, it has meant that people who would ordinarily never pass each other are now finding their journeys aligned.

At 11pm on Thursday night, Central was stowed with potential passengers all looking up at the departures board. In front of me, a man and a woman who had just met were arranging to go on a date (albeit one more keen than the other about it).

"Obviously if you work days, I can work around that. Let me know your dates. Are you far from Gilmour Street?" You couldn't blame him for trying.

The towns that appeared on the departures board were not tourist hotspots that people were queuing to get home to. This was Fort Matilda. Cartsdyke. Williamwood. Whiteways. Yes, there were services out of the city but the majority of people were Scots returning home. Which made you hope that they, too, have been out enjoying what the city has offered during Games days. The pop-up restaurants and the gigs and the general convivial spirit.

A train station can be a place of tension. No one is there through choice: it's just a necessary passing point to get to somewhere you want to be. Yet, despite that, Scotrail's staff have shown inordinate amounts of care, courtesy, and concern.

For the duration of the Games, the tourists, athletes and their families have been our audience and our responsibility.

And the truth is we needed them. They've made the city sit up and shape up. We've been on our best behaviour because that's been the natural reaction. It has been nothing short of a pleasure to say: 'Welcome - this is my city.' And, what's more, mean it.

Tourists and natives alike, the one thing we all have in common is the need to get around, the need to navigate the city. How different perceptions of Glasgow might have been if newcomers had to deal with surly, uncommunicative staff when travelling.

I hope they don't feel disappointed by their experience of Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games.

I, for one, have never been prouder.

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