THE month-long closure of two platforms marks the beginning of a new chapter at Glasgow’s Queen Street station, welcoming longer, greener electric trains.

Part of the £120 million project to redevelop and expand Scotland’s third-busiest station, starting at midnight, will see staff work around the clock for four weeks to extend another two platforms to increase capacity at Queen Street.

Before platforms 2 and 3 re-open on July 29, staff need to lay new track and connect it to the existing infrastructure on the rail network, as well as extend overhead power lines, install coping stones, rebuild sections of the platform walls and carry-out re-surfacing works.

The 26-metre extensions will allow the larger Class-385 trains to use the platforms – meaning good news for passengers as longer trains and more seats will be available on journeys
across Scotland.

Kevin McClelland, Network Rail route delivery director for infrastructure projects, said: “It will make it easier for more people to use the station. We’ll be able to use longer and greener trains, will be able to operate them in up to eight cars, giving further opportunity for people to use the station.

“I’d like to think people will notice a difference on a day-to-day basis. It will all contribute to a far better commuter experience. I’m sure they will a big benefit.

“ It is unfortunate that we have to close the platforms to do the work, but it’s the only safe way to do it.

“There’s a very popular strapline that ‘we are creating the best railway that Scotland has ever had’, and I would definitely subscribe to that view.”

While work is ongoing, services to Anniesland, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness will be affected, with replacement buses in some cases carrying passengers to outlying stations to carry on with their journeys.

However, bosses have decided to pause platform extension works during the busy period of August, before restarting again in September, meaning revellers heading to Edinburgh for the festivities will not be affected.
But the situation could have been much worse, had construction workers and engineers working in 2016 not thought ahead.

Much of the ground-work for the extensions over the coming four weeks has already been done, with industrial strength polystyrene blocks holding the excavation in place since 2016.

Instead of as many as 36 weeks of closed platforms and chaos in the station, it could now be as few as eight weeks.

Tommy McPake, programme manager for Network Rail, said: “We would have been starting from scratch. As it happens we pre-empted that and used the time we had during the tunnel blockade to stop this work having to take place at a later date.

“It would be three to four times more what we are seeing now, and on platforms four and five we have done the same. In terms of putting passengers first, that is what we should be doing.

“For mass transit of people it will be a lot better. We are getting more carriages on the trains so it will certainly benefit the festival.

“Hopefully people will start to notice the trains are less busy and they’ve got more space on them.”

While this work begins over the weekend, the redevelopment of the exterior and the transformation of the station’s concourse continues to come on leaps and bounds.

The skeleton of what will become the new Queen Street frontage is now in place, with passers-by and those in George Square now getting an increasingly clear picture of how the station will look.

Staff working on site, some of whom have remained since the beginning of the project, say the project has a historic feel, with the city at its heart. 

Everyone though, can agree that it is a massive improvement on the “horrible architecture” which encompassed Queen Street in the past. 

Mr McClelland added: “What you see is the very dramatic frontage, which will form the access points to the station, very much bringing it out into the square and onto West George Street, somewhere where it didn’t have a presence in the past. It is making a huge difference to its presence within the city.

“I’ve worked in a number of projects in the 14 years I have been with the railway, and probably this is the most iconic.
“We are creating the best station that Queen Street has ever been. We are all very proud of the legacy we are going to leave the Scottish public.”