by Phil Marsh

Record passenger numbers this summer in Scotland

Published: 19th August 2014

Sports events draw crowds to the railways

Scotland has been enjoying a bumper summer on the tracks with ScotRail and cross-border operators geared up to cope with many extra passengers. Major sporting events, notably the Commonwealth Games, have helped boost passenger numbers on trains to, from and within Scotland.

Trains have been so busy that on some days, records have been broken. After coping with 300,000 passengers on 28 July and then 350,000 passengers on 29 July, Glasgow Central saw 400,000 passengers the following day – something like four times as many as it would previously have served on what would be regarded as a busy day. Normal daily averages tend to tally below 75,000 but with more than that on many weekdays.

With more than 27 million passengers in a normal year, Glasgow Central had already gained the accolade of busiest British station outside of London. Glasgow 2014 brought visitors from all over the planet for the 20th Commonwealth Games between 23 July and 3 August. Significant numbers arrived by train and they and many more used rail to travel within Glasgow and to and from other Games venues around Scotland.

As a special welcome for the additional numbers arriving, Virgin Trains established a long-planned First Class Lounge at one end of its Travel Centre near the Gordon Street entrance of Glasgow Central station in time for the Games.

Up for the cup

Now, Scotland’s railways are preparing for another influx of sporting visitors for the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles between 23 and 28 September. In addition, there is to be a Ryder Cup Gala Concert at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on 24 September. A mix of contemporary music and Scottish talent is expected to draw crowds to the entertainment venue in western Glasgow, near Exhibition Centre station on the Argyle Line through Glasgow Central Low Level.

For the Ryder Cup itself, Gleneagles station between Dunblane and Perth on the line from Glasgow Queen Street and Stirling to the North and North East of Scotland has been restored and improved to cope with visitors. There will be temporary special access between the station and the golf course at Gleneagles Hotel. Improvements to the station and its environment will also bring permanent benefit for the longer term.

As well as many ScotRail trains, Gleneagles is also served directly by East Coast Trains and Caledonian Sleepers. It is possible to enjoy hotel accommodation elsewhere in Scotland, for example in Edinburgh or Glasgow, and travel to and from Gleneagles each day.

Glasgow 2014 and the Ryder Cup are major international events but they are only part of many activities in Scotland this year, drawing visitors for the Year of Homecoming. It’s proving to be a great year for Scottish tourism, and the railways have gained popularity as part of that boom.

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