Glasgow Subway new train testing (Photo: SPT)

UK: Preliminary testing of the new Stadler trains for the Glasgow Subway has begun, in what Strathclyde Partnership for Transport said marks a ‘major milestone’ for the modernisation of the 10·5 km circular underground line.

In March 2016 SPT awarded a consortium of Stadler and Ansaldo STS (now Hitachi) a £200m contract to supply 17 trains and signalling systems to support conversion to driverless operation. This forms part of a wider £288m modernisation of the Subway, with tunnel, track and station works being undertaken under separate contracts.

The four-car trains with walk-through gangways are custom-designed for the Subway, which has a very restricted profile and an unusual 1 220 mm gauge.

A new train entered the system for the first time following the close of passenger service on December 4. The initial exercise was to run from the testing and commissioning site on a non-operational part of the network to Broomloan depot and then to Govan station, to verify that the trainset could travel under its own power. 

A second exercise checked that the Clayton Equipment locomotives used for depot and maintenance activities can rescue a broken down train from the network.

Glasgow Subway new train testing (Photo: SPT)

‘This has been an event long in the planning’, SPT Subway Director Antony Smith said on December 17. ‘It is an indication that things are moving forward again after a challenging year for the project with the impact of Covid and lockdowns as well as the subsequent travel restrictions for our contractors.

‘However, as 2021 comes to an end, getting the first train into the system is real progress and a sign, that we can hope 2022 sees us get back on track with the modernisation programme.’

Full scale testing of the new trains is expected to begin in March or April and is scheduled to take 53 weeks, enabling passenger service from 2023.

The Stadler trains will initially operate alongside the current fleet, with drivers. Once the full fleet is in service the existing trains will be withdrawn, and the installation of half-height platform edge doors will begin and conversion of the line to driverless operation will be implemented.

When the new trains switch to driverless operation their driving consoles will be retained but hidden. The automation systems will support unattended operation and onboard staff will not be required, but SPT envisages retaining a member of staff onboard during the busiest times at a minimum.