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:

  • to describe an urban passenger train service; and
  • to describe a length of railway infrastructure.

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.[1]

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.[2] 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:

  • Argyle Street; this was entirely new, i.e. both the site and the construction. Due to its proximity to Glasgow Cross station, the latter was not re-opened.
  • Exhibition Centre station (called Finnieston until 1986); whilst this station was located only slightly to the west of the original Stobcross station on the Glasgow Central Railway, the only commonality between the two is the location of much of the eastbound platform (which was originally the westbound one).

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,[3] 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.[4] 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.[5]

Service pattern

On Mondays to Saturdays, the off peak service each hour is:

Most services terminating at Motherwell return in the 'opposite' direction. i.e. a train from Blantyre continues via Whifflet (formerly Bellshill) and vice versa.

On Sundays, the hourly service is:

Historical service patterns

At opening November 1979

  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dumbarton Central via Bellshill
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dumbarton Central via Blantyre
  • 2 tph Motherwell - Partick via Bellshill
  • 2 tph Motherwell - Partick via Blantyre
  • 1 tph Milngavie - Lanark (limited stop)

Monday - Saturday (2006/2007)

  • 2 tph Larkhall - Dalmuir via Singer (Limited Stop)
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Milngavie via Blantyre
  • 1 tph Lanark - Milngavie via Holytown and Blantyre
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dalmuir via Bellshill and Yoker
  • 1 tph Lanark - Dalmuir via Shieldmuir, Bellshill and Yoker
  • Peak Services to Coatbridge Central and Carstairs

Sunday (2006/2007)

  • 2 tph Motherwell - Balloch via Blantyre and Yoker
  • 1 tph Lanark - Milngavie via Shieldmuir and Bellshill
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Milngavie via Bellshill

Monday - Saturday (2007/2008)

  • 2 tph Larkhall - Dalmuir via Singer (Limited Stop)
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Milngavie via Blantyre
  • 1 tph Lanark - Milngavie via Holytown and Blantyre
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dalmuir via Bellshill and Yoker
  • 1 tph Lanark - Dalmuir via Shieldmuir, Bellshill and Yoker
  • Peak services to Coatbridge Central and Carstairs

Sunday (2007/2008)

  • 2 tph Motherwell - Balloch via Blantyre and Yoker
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Milngavie via Bellshill
  • 1 tph Lanark - Milngavie via Shieldmuir and Bellshill
  • 1 tph Larkhall - Partick (Limited Stop)

Monday - Saturday (2016)


  • 1 tph Dalmuir - Motherwell via Yoker and Whifflet
  • 1 tph Dalmuir - Whifflet via Yoker
  • 1 tph Milngavie - Motherwell via Hamilton
  • 1 tph Milngavie - Cumbernauld via Hamilton and Motherwell
  • 2 tph Glasgow Central - Lanark via Bellshill and Shieldmuir
  • 2 tph Dalmuir - Larkhall via Singer (all stations except Bridgeton and Dalmarnock)


  • 2 tph Lanark - Glasgow Central via Shieldmuir and Bellshill
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dalmuir via Hamilton and Yoker
  • 1 tph Cumbernauld - Dalmuir via Motherwell, Hamilton and Yoker
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Dalmuir via Whifflet and Singer
  • 1 tph Whifflet - Dalmuir via Singer
  • 2 tph Larkhall - Milngavie (all stations except Dalmarnock and Bridgeton)
  • Peak services to Carstairs

Sunday (2016) (both directions)

  • 2 tph Motherwell - Milngavie via Hamilton
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Balloch via Whifflet and Yoker
  • 1 tph Lanark - Glasgow Central via Shieldmuir Bellshill
  • 1 tph Motherwell - Glasgow Central via Bellshill
  • 1 tph Larkhall - Balloch via Yoker


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.

Service routes

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.

Passing through Motherwell, the trains then leave the West Coast Main Line again to call at Bellshill before rejoining the main line at Uddingston. The Hamilton Circle line converges at Newton.

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.

Westbound trains rise up a steep incline to join the North Clyde line from Queen Street station. This steep section originally gave access to the sidings at Queen's Dock from the Stobcross Railway.

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.[6] Trains then either travel towards Dalmuir via Yoker, or go via Anniesland to Milngavie or Dalmuir and on Sundays, Balloch via Yoker.

Initial service pattern

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.

Rolling stock

Class 318s are a common sight on the Argyle Line. 318257 is pictured at Motherwell.
Class 318s and Class 320s work the bulk of Argyle Line services. 318254 and 320313 stand side by side at Partick.

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.

The Argyle Line is operated by Class 320s and Class 318s with the occasional Class 334 appearing and Class 380 covering Lanark services that now run into Glasgow Central.

See also


  1. ^ The Railways of Great Britain - a Historical Atlas, Volume 2; Cobb, Col M H; 2003; Ian Allan Publishing Ltd
  2. ^ Skillen, Brian S. (1979). "The Once and Future Railway". In: Scottish Transport. Issue No. 33, Pp 13-19. Scottish Tramway Museum Society. December 1979. ISSN 0048-9808.
  3. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-17452063
  4. ^ SPT News Archived 22 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ GB National Rail Timetable 2014-15, Table 225
  6. ^ The usage information (Station Entries and Station Exits) is based on ticket sales in the financial year 2002/03 and covers all National Rail stations. Continued usage notes Archived 2006-03-04 at the Wayback Machine., and Excel format table for all stations Archived 2006-02-13 at the Wayback Machine. available.