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Radical plan for revamp of city station

AN office block that houses hundreds of workers could be demolished to make way for an expansion of Glasgow's Queen Street rail station.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is said to be in talks with Network Rail that could see it sell all or part of Consort House, where the majority of its 560-strong workforce is based.

The Queen Street redevelopment has been described by industry insiders as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to overhaul Scotland's third-busiest rail hub and make it more attractive for passengers when completed in 2017.

The station's entrance on to George Square in the heart of the city centre is currently dominated by the seven-storey concrete building and 1974 extension of what is now the Millennium Hotel.

A range of options have been drawn up by Network Rail, which include ripping both buildings down to make way for a new station entrance and expanded concourse area.

It is hoped a deal on the properties can be reached.

"SPT would be very happy to sell Consort House, if the price were right. It's been renting out spare office space, and relocating to a smaller office space would help it cut costs," said a source.

A rail industry source said: "Queen Street has 19.3 million passengers and that is predicted to grow by up to 50%.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a station that could be quite special if we get the right option."

A plan to develop Queen Street and connect it to the neighbouring Buchanan Galleries was launched by Network Rail, the station owner, and the Buchanan Partnership, which owns the shopping centre, in 2011.

However, that was sent back to the drawing board after cuts to the Scottish Government's Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme in July last year, which needed extensions to two platforms to accommodate longer trains running between the two cities.

Network Rail is investing £25 million in redeveloping Edinburgh's Haymarket Station and a further £130m on Waverley Station.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "Discussions are ongoing with a number of parties regarding the redevelopment of Queen Street, including SPT. These discussions are at an early stage and plans for the project have yet to be finalised."

A spokeswoman for SPT added: "Network Rail and SPT have been in preliminary discussions regarding longer-term plans for Queen Street station.

"However, we understand that no firm proposals have been submitted nor given government approval, so it is not something we can comment on at this very early stage."

A Millennium Hotel spokesman said it was involved in "constructive" negotiations about developing the station.

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