Driverless trains will run on the Glasgow Subway from 2021 following the announcement of a £200 million deal to modernise the network.
Hitachi-owned Italian firm Ansaldo and Swiss company Stadler Bussnang have been awarded the contract to supply the new trains, signalling and equipment.
The dimensions of the Glasgow Subway are unique so the new trains will be the same length and size as existing ones but will be a four-car set, as opposed to the current three-car set, with open gangways to maximise the space and allow for wheelchair access.
Wheelchair users will be able to access the system at St Enoch in the city centre and Govan at the new transport interchange which is currently under construction.
Passengers will be able to see along the tunnel at either end because there will be no separate drivers’ cabs.
The Subway’s signalling equipment, control systems and control centre will all be replaced to enable trains to run every three minutes compared to four at present.
The trains will initially have drivers when introduced from 2020, until the £288 million Subway upgrade is completed in 2021.
This will include new safety platform screen doors, which will be ‘half height’ to preserve space within the stations and open when a train stops, like on some London underground lines.
Subway operator Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) has not said whether there will be other staff on trains, while the 33 drivers may be redeployed,
SPT Chief Executive Gordon Maclennan said: “This contract is a key part of our plan to modernise the Subway for generations to come. We are all aware of the proud rail history of the Subway as the third oldest in the world and our plans for modernisation will ensure that the Subway continues to be an essential component in the transport network of the future.”
Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport & Islands said: “I welcome the achievement of this important milestone in the project being taken forward by SPT to modernise the Glasgow Subway, towards the costs of which the Scottish Government will be providing up to £246 million, in line with the commitments we made in 2012.”