THE Connectivity Commission, a team of transport and business experts, this week unveiled a host of ambitious projects that would radically transform travel in Glasgow.

A Glasgow Metro with trams running around the city, a tunnel under the city centre are two of the big-ticket projects in the recommendations.

The report was well received and welcomed as a vision for the city to give it a transport network it deserves.

Evening Times:
Glasgow Metro plans

It even united political parties with local leaders in agreement it is a vision they can get on board with.

Some of the ideas have a familiar feel and Professor David Begg, the committee chair, said they had all been through an assessment by Transport Scotland.

READ MORE: New £10bn Glasgow Metro plan with trams and reopened train routes unveiled for city

Today we take a look at some of the big ideas that have been mooted in the past 25 years to solve transport problems in Glasgow but were destined to spend their life stuck in a filing cabinet, never to see the light of day.

TRAMS (1994)

In 1994, plans were drawn up by Strathclyde Passenger Transport Authority for a tram line. More than thirty years since the last tram shoogled off the city’s streets a proposal for a 12 mile line from Maryhill to Easterhouse via the city centre was presented.

It was to be the first line in a new tram network for the city.

But after objections, including from the bus industry, the plan went before a public inquiry two years later.

READERS' LETTERS: Glasgow must learn lessons from Edinburgh’s tram debacle

The result, after a nine-week long hearing, was to rule out the trams.

Charlie Gordon, then SPTA chairman and later a Glasgow City Council leader and MSP said Glasgow had: “missed out on the chance of a twenty-first century mode of transport which had the overwhelming and enthusiastic support of the public.”

SUBWAY (2007)

Evening Times:

The Subway has been a fixture in Glasgow since 1896 the third oldest in the world and the only one not to have been extended.

It has not been for the want of trying or talking about it.

Plans were mentioned for extending the subway along north of the River Clyde from Partick when Glasgow Harbour was being developed.

Then in 2007, when Glasgow was announced as Commonwealth Games host city seven years later, SPT said it was definitely going to extend the subway out to the east end.

The late Alistair Watson, then SPT chair said: “We will deliver the East End extension for 2014. I am being unequivocal about that.”

READ MORE: Plans to link Glasgow Central and Queen Street stations with city centre tunnel

The plan was to go east from Buchanan street to Dennistoun on to Celtic Park and Dalmarnock then back along to connect at Bridge Street of St Enoch’s.

Instead, for the Games Dalmarnock Station was refurbished and the subway plan left untouched.

As recently as 2016 the SNP in Glasgow put a commitment to looking at studies to extend the Subway in its manifesto. stating “We will look favourably on opportunities to expand the Subway network and consider innovative funding approaches to achieve the first extension to the Subway since its creation in the 1890’s.”

So far no action has been taken.

Still the subway is one circle line, two tunnels and 15 stations. Pretty much the same as it was in 1896


Evening Times:

Also for the Commonwealth Games, fastlink to the Hydro and SEC was to be in place. originally the plan was for trams at around £40m but it became a dedicated bus route and was not fully in place in time for 2014.

The route has been built on segregated sections in a way that would allow a future upgrade to light rail or tram.

TUNNEL (2003)

In 2003 a study was conducted into connecting the north and south rail networks in Glasgow with a city centre tunnel one of the options.

It was costed at half a billion pounds as the “High Resource Scenario” of three possibilities which included upgrading the City Union Line and St John’s loop as medium resource at £384m, and acting within current constraints with platform lengthening and longer trains the low resource scenario at £18m.

It was noted that: “The capital cost of the combined proposals is high as are the operating costs of the new services that use the tunnel” However, Transport Scotland also said “analysis suggests that net social benefits may exceed net social costs.”

It was noted that the Union Line upgrade on its own was not effective without a tunnel which was the more expensive of the two.

Ultimately neither the tunnel nor the Union line upgrade was progressed.


Crossrail would have linked the networks and a station was proposed for Glasgow Cross. It was proposed to also regenerate the High Street area and Trongate area of the city centre. Despite much campaigning it was never taken forward by Transport Scotland and was removed from the national priorities.

READ MORE: Direct rail link to Glasgow Airport is 'dead' says Susan Aitken


Evening Times:

Similarly a plan for high speed rail between Glasgow and Edinburgh by 2024 was announced by Nicola Sturgeon, when she was Deputy First Minister in 2012, stating Scotland wouldn’t wait for the UK Government to “deliver a cross border High Speed line”. Four years later however the plan was shunted into the sidings with Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, stating it was not possible to deliver unless a cross border link to England was identified.


Studies have also looked at using existing tunnels under the city centre to expand the rail network and reopening stations closed under Beeching cuts like the one under the Botanic Gardens and through to Maryhill.

The Maryhill shopping centre, now a Tesco, was built protecting the void below and a nearby Bingo hall built to avoid the rail cutting to allow a future rail line station to be re-instated but nothing came of the plans.

CABLE CAR (2012)

Some plans for the city were literally up in air. When Chair of SPT, Alistair Watson, suggested a Barcelona style, tourist attraction cable car from Port Dundas at the Forth and Clyde Canal to George Square over the M8 and down North Hanover Street.

It was promptly dismissed by then City Council leader, Gordon Matheson, but was again discussed at a meeting with Scottish Canals two years ago as part of a new residential development at Port Dundas.

All of the previous plans had a strong level of local political backing but still fell by the wayside.

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The chair of the Connectivity Commission said this week when he launched the phase two report, he recognised that there needs to be willingness from national authorities to take his recommendations forward.

He said: “There is a very good chance of this happening if there is the ambition.”