First opened in 1890, the Glasgow Subway has been refurbished a number of times after being subjected to the wear and tear of time and relentless daily use.

Electrified in 1935 the subway operated continuously up until 1977 when the rolling stock, tunnels and infrastructure had all reached a point where a major overhaul was required; the twin tunnel system was closed for a major refurbishment and new rolling stock purchased.

Following its re-opening in 1980 with the now iconic orange train livery, the system was a welcome boost to the Glasgow transport system for a further 30 years. The current operator, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, agreed funding for a new modernisation programme in 2011.

Hillhead Station

Modernising Hillhead

As part of this programme Clancy Docwra was awarded a £1.5million contract for the modernisation of Hillhead Station on Byres Road, one of the busiest stations on the route serving Glasgow University and the vibrant West End.

Hillhead, in common with all the stations on the system had begun to look tired with its 1970’s colour scheme, poor lighting and outdated technology.

An important aspect of this refurbishment programme was that the subway could not close down, and all works would have to be programmed around a fully operational railway. The majority of works needed to be undertaken at night when the trains stopped operating, however that brought additional issues around local residents and the active late night social scene in Byres Road.

Clancy Docwra ensured that plans were put in place to minimise noise from deliveries and ongoing work. Space limitations meant materials had to be brought to site at the start of each shift from a storage facility not too far away. Gated access security systems were utilised to ensure no unauthorised access to the subway at night, and it was of particular importance that the station was handed back in pristine condition every morning for the normal operation of the railway. Local businesses were also catered for to ensure no disruption to trade from the works.

Works were undertaken in five-hour shifts during ‘engineering hours’ with staff rotation to allow seven day working

The starting point was to remove all ceilings on the concourse to expose the void to enable the installation of new steel beams to support the lighting pods.

A complete rewiring of the station was also required, much of which was located within the ceiling void. As thirty years of dirt and grime was exposed when the old ceiling was removed, it was vital to protect the concourse floors and track during the works at night.

The solution was to provide protective netting below the ceiling as well as track and floor coverings. This netting also protected the public from debris that might have fallen from the ceiling void during the day.

While it was simple to remove floor and track coverings at the end of the shift, the protective netting proved more difficult. To increase the available working shift, a sliding net on steel cables was installed across the entire station track area, allowing it to be rolled back and replaced as required.

Hillhead Station

A customer friendly environment

Away from the platform, concourse works were ongoing to build a new ticket office and staff welfare facilities. Once the new office was operational the old ticket office was stripped out and converted into a modern retail unit.

Front of house the old station canopy was removed and a new one installed above the entrance, which was fitted with new windows, doors and security systems.

Two new escalators and stairs to the platform areas were installed, and ticket barriers replaced and relocated to suit the new configuration. New passenger information systems were installed, along with emergency lighting and smoke detector systems.

With the heavy civils now completed, work commenced on the tiling of the platforms, concourse and ticket hall entrance.

The tile colours selected reflected the client’s new branding, creating a brighter more customer friendly environment which was enhanced by the new energy efficient soft lighting installed throughout the station.

A special feature on the station concourse was a mural in the form of wall tiles commissioned for the station. This depicts aspects of Glasgow life and was designed by the author and artist Alistair Gray.

With all the new Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) branding completely installed, the new Hillhead Station was handed back. Following an official re-opening ceremony, Charles Hoskins, director of projects, said: ‘Your team has remained determined and worked hard on what has been a challenging project to deliver while keeping our operations and customers as your first priority. I hope your team can share in the same sense of pride as we will at SPT over the years to come when Hillhead is looked back upon as the standard by which we modernised the entire subway system.’

Hillhead Station

More work on the Glasgow subway

Clancy Docwra is delighted, on completion of Hillhead, to have been selected as delivery partner for Partick, the next station on the route due for refurbishment, and work is currently nearing completion.

Following a tendering process Clancy Docwra has been selected as one of three Framework Contractors for the delivery of the remainder of the refurbishments to the stations on the Glasgow Subway.

This programme will run to 2018 and Colin Wilkinson, Regional Director for Clancy Docwra commented: ‘Clancy Docwra is delighted to have been selected for the framework with SPT where we have developed a positive working relationship with our client and its support team. Together, we are well on the way to successfully delivering a second station on the network.

‘Our team has learned much about working in the subway environment and we hope that experience can be brought to bear for the benefit of the Framework over the next few years.’

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