The Abandoned Low-Level ‘Victorian Platform’ of Glasgow Central Station

abandoned-victorian-platform-glasgow (Image: ChooChooMagrew; Glasgow Central’s secret ‘Victorian Platform’)

Opened in 1879 by the Caledonian Railway and now the northern terminus of the West Coast Main Line, more than 38 million people pass through Glasgow Central station annually en route to and from Scotland’s largest city. But unknown to many – including locals – is the abandoned subterranean platform that lies hidden away in the gloomy bowels of the station.

When they were first opened by the Glasgow Central Railway in 1896, the low-level platforms formed an entirely separate station. But when Glasgow Central underwent a major redevelopment between 1901 and 1905 to greatly increase its capacity, the low-level platforms, which had been taken over by the Caledonian Railway a decade earlier, were incorporated into the broader Central station infrastructure.

abandoned-victorian-platform-glasgow-2 (Image: gcat79; low-level Victorian platform unaltered for decades)

Running perpendicular to the high-level tracks above, which pass over the River Clyde on approach to Glasgow Central, the subterranean lines were part of an efficient urban railway running through a tunnel beneath the city centre. They remained so until the 1960s, when increased competition from trams and buses led to the route’s abandonment in October 1964, courtesy of the notorious Beeching Axe.

But 15 years later, in 1979, the low-level tunnels of Central station was upgraded, electrified and reopened as part of the Glasgow suburban railway network’s popular Argyle Line. A single island platform flanked by two tracks catered to the city’s urban commuter traffic. That platform remains in use today.

glasgow-central-station-low-level-2 (Image: Thomas Nugent: across the divide – Glasgow Central’s active low-level platform)

But the other low-level platform, which had also lain dormant since 1964, was never upgraded and its track never electrified. It’s understood that, as one platform was incorporated into the new Argyle Line, the other was simply partitioned off and abandoned. Sealed away, the second low-level platform has lain forgotten for more than 30 years.

Fast-forward to the present day and, thanks to a project known as Glasgow Central Tours, the subterranean station’s hidden history and long-off-limits corners are now accessible to members of the public under guided supervision. From the roof to the abandoned ‘Victorian Platform’ below, those lucky enough to get on the tour can catch a glimpse of places unseen by all except a handful of railway workers for over a century.

glasgow-central-station-low-level (Image: Thomas Nugent: steps to Glasgow Central’s subterranean platforms)

There’s even the remains of an entire ghost village – Grahamston – down there, which, like Edinburgh’s ‘Underground City’, was lost amid the foundations of Glasgow Central station back in Victorian times.

On two relatively recent occasions, in 1994 and 2002, the subterranean tunnels of Central station’s low-level platforms have been flooded by torrential rains that closed the Argyle Line for months for renovation. But unlike the Beeching Axe of 1964, Mother Nature has yet to close the station’s underground infrastructure permanently.

abandoned-victorian-platform-glasgow-3 (Image: nordic lady; Glasgow Central’s abandoned platform in the gloom beyond)

Even so, it seems likely that the abandoned and evocative “Victorian platform”, which still bears all blackened hallmarks of the steam trains that once served it, will remain firmly in a past epoch, eerily frozen in time.

abandoned-victorian-platform-glasgow-4 (Image: nordic lady; abandoned low-level platform from the tour viewing area)

Related – Track 61: The Mysterious Abandoned Underground Railway Beneath NYC’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel


About the author: Tom





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