THE Victorians created the Glasgow Subway and created a system that has transported people around Glasgow ever since.
Now, as the Subway celebrates its 115th anniversary, MATTY SUTTON looks to its bright future...
WORK on a £300million upgrade of the Glasgow Subway is under way and Hillhead will be the first station to pioneer the ultra-modern look.
In the next five to six years passengers will be watching advertisements on iPad style screens on the bright white tiled walls of the network as they wait for remote-controlled trains in orange, grey and white to arrive.
Jonathan Findlay, chairman of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, which runs the Subway, said the modernisation was necessary to save the system.
He said: "The problem with the Subway at the moment is that a lot of the infrastructure, equipment and rolling stock is more than 30 years old and it is getting to the end of its life.
"It is like keeping a 30-year-old car running – it breaks down much more often than if you have a nice new car with new technology.
"That means, inevitably, more and more money needs to be spent on it to keep it as it should be. So by modernising the rolling stock and the signalling you are spending to save."
The entire system, comprising of Inner and Outer Circles, 6½ miles of track and 15 stations, will be revamped, starting with Hillhead, then Kelvinhall and Ibrox.
These stations link to major Commonwealth Games venues and the plan is to have them ready by 2014.
Tens of thousands of people rely on the Subway to get to and from work daily.
It carries the equivalent of 400 full double decker buses – that's about 28,000 people – round Glasgow every day.
The Subway will stay open during the modernisation.
Mr Findlay said a planned new Smartcard ticketing system – similar to Oyster cards, which are used on the London Underground. would be today's "legacy".
They will be able to be used instead of paper tickets and can be topped up at home and swiped to gain access to the Subway.
The new ticket system should be in place in time for the Games and the plan is to eventually extend the Smartcards to cover all forms of public transport across the Strathclyde network.
The technology could mean eventually the Smartcards being used across Scotland, with the possibility of mobile phones being used as swipe tickets instead of a card.
Mr Findlay said: "The Victorians left a fantastic legacy in Glasgow, including the Subway, and it is our duty to honour that and create a Subway that is fit for the 21st century.
"It is the third oldest subway in the world after London and Budapest and the big advantage we have is that our infrastructure is already there, we have already got the tunnels.
"We are not rebuilding. It is the same tunnels and the same stations, but they are all going to get a facelift, and be more modern.
"There is going to be more modern signalling and equipment so the trains can run more frequently and the network's opening hours can be adjusted to meet customer demand."
Modernisation will bring the Subway in line with underground systems throughout the world that already use driverless trains and automated systems.
The trains are controlled centrally, which allows greater flexibility to deal with busy times, such as big events in the city, and will mean longer opening hours.
And the stations will look bright and light and will all stick to the same style, brand and colour theme.
Mr Findlay added: "We want people to come in and say, 'wow, this is fantastic'.
"We want people to feel safe, feel confident they are getting a frequent and reliable service, and to keep coming back.
"At the moment, it is a throwback to the 1970s, it is very brown and orange, but the new look will be far cleaner, far more modern and far gentler on the eye."
So will the Subway still be running in another century?
Mr Findlay said: "If we continue to ensure the Subway changes to meet modern demands and the expectations of the travelling public, then it will continue for another 115 years. If we don't modernise the Subway, it will shut.
"But we have started the process and I think it has a rosy future."