The Argyle Line is a suburban railway located in West Central Scotland. It connects the Lanarkshire towns of Lanark, Larkhall and Motherwell to West Dunbartonshire via central Glasgow using sub-surface running. It takes its name from Glasgow's Argyle Street, under which a significant section of the line runs via a cut-and-cover tunnel. The line was developed by Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive and British Rail.
The term "Argyle Line" is loosely used in two contexts:
The train service extends considerably beyond the Argyle Line infrastructure, connecting the suburban areas of North Clydeside with Motherwell, Larkhall and Lanark.
The Glasgow Central Railway under central Glasgow had been opened in 1886, connecting the Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire Railway at Maryhill Central and Stobcross Railway at Stobcross to the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway near Kirkhill, Rutherglen and Coatbridge Railway at Carmyle, Clydesdale Junction Railway and Polloc and Govan Railway at Rutherglen and Clydesdale Junction Railway at Newton. The line closed in 1964.
In November 1979, the Argyle Line was created, as joint venture by British Rail and the Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive (SPTE), by reopening most of the former route. However, the former Caledonian Railway route from Whiteinch was not to be re-opened, and a new connection with the former North British Railway route via Hyndland was created, incorporating a grade-separated junction with the Queen Street Low Level route.
A key part of the re-opening was the implementation of an intensive electrically operated passenger train service between Dalmuir and Milngavie, and Motherwell and Lanark. The service west of Partick was to be integrated with the existing North Clyde services on the Queen Street Low Level line. Outside of Glasgow's central area, the train service used sections of the North Clyde and West Coast Main Line (WCML).
Two stations were constructed for the re-opening of the line:
On the central tunnel section, there are disused stations at Glasgow Green and at Glasgow Cross (adjacent to the Tollbooth), both constructed by the Glasgow Central Railway. The frontage of Glasgow Green station was demolished in March 2012, whilst the entrance to Glasgow Cross station has been turned into ventilation ducts, visible from the traffic island between Trongate and London Road.
The Larkhall Line was opened as an extension to Argyle Line services in December 2005 by First Minister Jack McConnell. The line was the reopening of the Coalburn Branch and Mid Lanark Lines of the Caledonian Railway and it begins at Haughhead Junction, just east of Hamilton Central. Stations are located at Chatelherault, Merryton and Larkhall, where services terminate. The branch is single line throughout, with a crossing loop at Allanton.
In 2006, Network Rail announced tentative proposals to electrify the Rutherglen - Whifflet section, as part of a £1.4bn upgrade to Scotland's railways (these were confirmed in May 2013). The main benefits of this scheme is to provide an enhanced frequency for the Whifflet-Central routes, reduce conflicting moves on the WCML, and to provide an electric diversionary path for long distance WCML services. Electrification also would mean the Whifflet Line being added to the Argyle Line system with services through Glasgow Central Low Level to the western suburbs. This work was completed in time for the December 2014 timetable change and led to a timetable recast that saw Whifflet Line services replace those to/from Lanark in the service pattern through the core section via Central Low Level.
On Mondays to Saturdays, the off peak service each hour is:
On Sundays, the hourly service is:
The infrastructure of the Argyle Line consists of a route from Finnieston West Junction (Eastbound), Finnieston East Junction (Westbound) (both East of Partick Station, diverging from the Queen Street and Airdrie line) and Rutherglen Junction (joining the Caledonian main line towards Motherwell). It is double track throughout, with a grade-separated junction comprising the Finnieston East and West Junctions; eastwards from there the route dives underground and is sub-surface as far as Dalmarnock station. There is one intermediate siding at Exhibition Centre, used to for turning back westbound trains. The stations are of island or two-platform design.
The route serves the commercial and shopping districts of Glasgow's central area.
The south-eastern extremity of the train service is the two-platform station at Lanark, on a two-mile single track branch from Lanark Junction. Trains from Lanark continue northbound on the West Coast Main Line as far as Law Junction, diverging northwards there on the Holytown route as far as Wishaw North Junction, where they diverge to rejoin the West Coast Main Line at Shieldmuir Junction.
Trains approaching Motherwell from Holytown or Coatbridge Central, cross the WCML to travel onto the Hamilton Circle, before calling at Airbles. Between here and Hamilton Central, a spur from Larkhall joins. The line then passes through Hamilton West, Blantyre and Newton before rejoining the West Coast Main Line as far as Rutherglen.
At Dalmarnock Junction, trains diverge northwards to enter the infrastructure of the Argyle Line, diving underground after Dalmarnock station. West of Exhibition Centre Station, the line to Partick and Hyndland, diverges to form a burrowing junction.
Eastbound trains enter what is now known as Kelvinhaugh Tunnel, immediately to the West of Sandyford Street. This tunnel joins the original Kelvinhaugh Tunnel on the Lanarkshire and Dunbartonshire Railway from Partick Central, just South of Kelvinhaugh Street; finally meeting the disused Stobcross Depot Tunnel on the Glasgow Central Railway, just inside the common South East portal of these two tunnels. The mouth of the Stobcross Depot Tunnel can be seen from the Eastbound platform of Exhibition Centre Station.
Going North-westwards, Partick is the fifth busiest in Scotland. Trains then either travel towards Dalmuir via Yoker, or go via Anniesland to Milngavie or Dalmuir and on Sundays, Balloch via Yoker.
From the opening by British Rail in November 1979, the basic weekday service was one train per hour from Dumbarton to the Hamilton Circle (anticlockwise), and one train from Dumbarton to Hamilton Circle (clockwise, including Newton), two trains per hour from Dalmuir to Hamilton Circle (anticlockwise) and two trains per hour to Hamilton Circle (clockwise, including Newton), and one train per hour between Milngavie and Lanark (non-stop from Argyle Street to Motherwell).
For a few years from the re-opening, the northbound West Highland sleeping car train from London Euston used the route on Saturdays only. It was detached from another portion at Mossend and diesel-hauled via the Rutherglen & Coatbridge line.
At its opening, the rolling stock on the Argyle Line was Class 314 electric multiple units, which were then new. These were accompanied by a number of the older Class 303 "Blue Train" sets from the North Clyde route. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Class 311 trains also operated on this route. After the 303s were retired in 2002, the route was operated by a mixture of new Class 334 Alstom "Juniper" units, alongside a small number of 1980s vintage Class 318 trains cascaded from the Ayrshire routes, with the original Class 314 sets transferred to the Cathcart Circle.