by Phil Marsh

Threat to close Glasgow stations denied if Maryhill line remains unelectrified

Published: 15th November 2013

Taking the heat out of water in the Glasgow Subway

Fears that the Glasgow Queen Street to Anniesland line through Maryhill could be closed have been dismissed by the Scottish Government.

Labour politicians in the city raised concerns about the future of the route following a report to Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) that the line would be the only stretch of track not electrified north of the Clyde in the Glasgow area.

The line was dropped last year from the original electrification scheme as part of the Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP). But the Scottish Government now says electrification will arrive on the Maryhill line at a later date.

The route from the “high level” platforms at Queen Street station was completed to Anniesland in 2005 and has intermediate stations at Ashfield, Possilpark & Parkhouse, Maryhill, Gilshochill, Summerston and Kelvindale,

The Glasgow Evening Times ran a “Save Our Stations” campaign when it was feared that local stations, including those on the Maryhill route, could close. Assurances were given that there would be no closures and that the EGIP plan would not threaten the line through Maryhill.

But a report from Glasgow City Council for SPT councillors in October 2013 says that serious concerns for the line’s future have been raised by its exclusion from EGIP electrification plans. This would leave it vulnerable as a diesel-worked island surrounded by lines operated by electric trains.

SPT, which is the statutory regional transport partnership for Glasgow and much of the west of Scotland, wants the line to be electrified to guarantee its future. It could then link with existing electrified tracks through Anniesland, where the Maryhill line diesel units currently use a terminal platform that is separate from the through platforms used by electric trains on routes such as those to Milngavie and Helensburgh.

Councillor Jim Coleman, chairman of SPT, told the Evening Times: “The exclusion of the Maryhill line from electrification could potentially isolate that area from the rest of the network. I am very concerned about the future of that route and the passengers who depend on it."

But on 31 October the Deputy First Minister of the Scottish Government, Nicola Sturgeon MSP of the Scottish National Party (SNP), responded that there had never been any intention to close the line and its stations. As long as her party was in power, the stations would be safe, she insisted.

They said

Keith Brown MSP, the SNP Transport Minister, said: “To set the record straight, the future of the Maryhill line is safe. We remain committed to Maryhill services using the direct route from Anniesland to Queen Street station.”

He forecast that the Maryhill line will be electrified as a result of future investment in Scotland’s railways.

Glasgow hot air or passing water…?

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is to work closely with scientists from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) to convert unwanted ingress water from the Subway into a sustainable heat source.

The pioneering technology will be developed over the next two years as a result of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between SPT and GCU and builds on SPT’s existing energy efficiency strategy. The KTP programme supports businesses to access the knowledge and skills that reside within universities to improve competitiveness and productivity.

They said:

Gordon Maclennan, SPT Chief Executive, said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for SPT and builds positively on our existing energy efficiency strategy. We’ve already installed solar panels and voltage regulation systems at Buchanan Bus Station, a ground source heat pump at our Subway depot in Govan and LED lighting across all of our facilities but we’re always keen to improve our green credentials.

“This innovative approach has potential to produce many more benefits for SPT including reducing our energy usage and costs. I’m delighted that we can also work with the university to share expertise, it will no doubt deliver great results.”

The GCU team will support SPT in developing a financially and environmentally effective method of harvesting heat from the water, allowing SPT to offer an even more efficient service and further improve customers’ experience of the system.

Water in the underground tunnel has a temperature of around 14C, which is sufficient for obtaining heat. That heat will be extracted using energy efficient pumps to suck up warm water and use the heat to warm stations and nearby buildings. If successful, the technique would cut both heating and maintenance costs and reduce disruption for Subway passengers.

This KTP builds on GCU’s strong track record for research in the area of sustainable urban environments. It is an excellent example of the way our academics apply their knowledge and understanding to solving practical problems, thereby bringing real benefit to the communities and people we serve.” The project will be the first to attempt to use the heat-harvesting technique in a Subway.

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