An SNP MSP has called for a new station to be built in Glasgow city centre and a railway line to be revived, upgraded and electrified. 

John Mason, MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, said that the new station at Glasgow Cross would allow trains to run from Ayr to Edinburgh, stopping in Glasgow, but not using Central or Queen Street stations. 

His call was prompted by the ongoing improvement work on the wrought-iron rail bridge spanning the A8 at Saltmarket near to Glasgow Cross. The £3.8 million project is due for completion in September and will extend the lifespan of the wrought-iron structure, which is over 150 years old. 

The bridge carries the City Union Line across Saltmarket, which provides a diversion route for freight traffic and a route for passenger trains to Shields Depot in the southside of the city, where the trains are stabled and cleaned. The line is also used on occasion by special charter trains.

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The non-electrified line, also known as the Tron Line, runs from Bellgrove in Glasgow’s east end over Gallowgate and across the River Clyde and west to the Shields Road area. The southern section was closed to passengers with the closure of St Enoch railway station in 1966.

It forms the cornerstone of the proposed Glasgow Crossrail development, which aims to link Glasgow Central High Level services to Glasgow Queen Street low level.

First recommended in the Greater Glasgow Transportation Study back in 1968, it has long been viewed by transport and civic authorities as a major flaw in Glasgow’s rail network. 

After taking to Twitter to call for the City Union Line to be electrified and a new station built at Glasgow Cross, John Mason MSP expressed his disappointment that the project has never progressed beyond the suggestion stage, despite being discussed for decades. 

He told The Herald: “There certainly have been calls for a number of years for that line (Glasgow Crossrail) to be used as part of the network which would require both electrification and one or more new stations. It is currently used for moving empty diesel trains around, special tourist trains, and I think possibly some freight.

“However, SPT, Transport Scotland, and the other parts of the rail system have not shown much enthusiasm so far. I do know that there are capacity issues between Paisley Gilmour Street and Glasgow Central so that would have to be addressed. 

"But the big advantage would be able to have through trains without putting extra pressure on the two main stations – Central and Queen Street.  You could then have through trains from Paisley, Greenock, Ayr, Kilmarnock and elsewhere running directly to Stirling, Edinburgh, and the rest of Scotland.

“Another possibility would be a station at Glasgow Cross which would allow transfers between the higher level Crossrail line and the lower level Argyle line.  However, I do accept that there would be a fair cost for this.

“I have always been disappointed that this has not been taken forward despite it being suggested and discussed over a number of years. As well as the regional and national benefits for travel, it could be a real boost to the local area. High Street and Saltmarket have struggled a bit in recent years and development to the east of these roads has not happened as much as many of us had hoped when the area to the west (Merchant City) has done very well.”

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Transport Minister Kevin Stewart said that, although no plans are in place for a new station at Glasgow Cross, plans for The Clyde Metro Mass Transit System "would allow for more effective rail operations".

He told The Herald: “While there are no current proposals for a new rail station at Glasgow Cross, considerable efforts are being made by the Scottish Government, alongside Glasgow City Council and SPT, in progressing plans for the Clyde Metro Mass Transit System. The Clyde Metro system would allow for more effective rail operations, greatly improve connectivity and increase integration across services.

“Notwithstanding the work on Clyde Metro, there remains a path for regional or local rail projects to come forward. If a strong business case is presented for a rail intervention these will be considered further in line with the Scottish Government’s investment priorities for the strategic transport network. ”

The call for a new station at Glasgow Cross comes after Glasgow City Council confirmed that it plans to make a case to Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) and Transport Scotland for a station to be reinstated on the Argyle line at Glasgow Cross or Glasgow Green, so that the city centre park “ be connected into the public transport network to support large events and make it easier for people to access the green space”.

It follows the approval of a programme for regeneration frameworks for four city centre districts (Cowcaddens, the Learning Quarter, the Merchant City and Townhead), which will be delivered over the next decade through District Regeneration Frameworks (DRFs) for each of the areas.

An SPT spokesperson said: “As plans develop for the Clyde Metro, any and all opportunities to significantly improve and develop the transport network of the West of Scotland will be considered by all partners.”