Paisley Canal Line

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Paisley Canal Line
Paisley Canal railway station 1.jpg
1990 Paisley Canal railway station before electrification
System National Rail
Locale Glasgow
Termini Glasgow Central
Paisley Canal
Stations 7
Opening 1885
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) First ScotRail
Rolling stock Class 314
Class 380 (peak times only)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Electrification 25kV 50hz AC
Paisley Canal Line
City of Glasgow Union Railway
Glasgow Central
enlarge… Shields Junction Complex (simplified)
Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway
Paisley and Barrhead District Railway
Paisley Canal
Paisley Canal(original location)
Paisley West
G&SWR Barrhead Branch
Corsebar Junction | Potterhill Junction
Meiklerig Junction
Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway
Ferguslie Paisley and Barrhead District Railway
Elderslie East Junction
Elderslie West Junction
Johnstone Junction
Cart Junction
Bridge of Weir Railway
Dalry and North Johnstone Line
Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway

The Paisley Canal Railway line was originally a Glasgow and South Western Railway branch line running from Glasgow, Scotland, through three stations in Paisley, to North Johnstone. After leaving Paisley West station, near Ferguslie, the line continued to Elderslie junction where it met and crossed under the main Glasgow and South Western Railway line running from Paisley Gilmour Street station to Johnstone, and beyond. After Elderslie, the line terminated at North Johnstone, however another junction allowed services from the Paisley Canal line (also part of the Glasgow and South Western Railway Company) to continue onto the Bridge of Weir Railway and Greenock and Ayrshire Railway to the latter's terminus at Greenock Princes Pier.

The line is electrified at 25 kV AC.


The majority of the route from Glasgow to Paisley (actually, Port Eglinton to Ferguslie) ran along the bed of the former Glasgow, Paisley and Johnstone Canal. The canal had been purchased, in 1869, by the Glasgow and South Western Railway Company (G&SWR) and an Act of Parliament was used to close the canal in 1881. The railway line, which opened in 1885, still uses the River Cart Aqueduct (which it crosses at a skewed angle). This makes the former aqueduct the world's oldest railway bridge that is still in active use.

The original route[edit]

As part of the G&SWR, the Paisley Canal line's original Glasgow terminus was at St Enoch station. The line ran from St Enoch station to three stations in Paisley: Paisley Hawkhead Road, Paisley Canal station, and Paisley West; with intermediate passenger stations at: Shields, Bellahouston and Crookston and a terminus at North Johnstone.[1]

Between Paisley West and Elderslie, the line of the railway deviated slightly from the original line of the Glasgow, Paisley and Johnstone canal; a former loop in the canal was used to hold cooling water for the cotton thread mills at Ferguslie.

At Elderslie Junction it ran alongside the Glasgow and South Western Railway line running from Paisley Gilmour Street station to Johnstone and beyond, before crossing it via a dive-under crossing. The line terminated at a station at North Johnstone, however another junction near Elderslie provided access onto the Bridge of Weir Railway. This is not the G&SWR Johnstone North railway station on the Dalry and North Johnstone Line, but an earlier station of the same name at a slightly different location.[1][2][3]

The main difference between the original and current routes into Glasgow after 1966 was the alteration of Shields Junction to head to Glasgow Central instead of St Enoch, which was closed in 27 June 1966 to passenger services and 5 June 1967 to goods and parcel trains; the station was demolished in 1975 and the St Enoch Centre (taking its name from the former occupier of the site) now stands on the site of the old station.

Connections to other lines[edit]

Phased closure[edit]

Run down of passenger services[edit]

St Enoch station was closed by the Beeching Axe, together with the section of track to Shields Junction. Elderslie station closed in 1966 and was demolished.[2] Hawkhead and Paisley West stations also closed at the same time.[2]

Passenger services continued on the Paisley Canal Line until its closure, running from Glasgow Central station to Kilmacolm, and occasional trains to the Ayrshire Coast Line (using Class 101, Class 107 and Class 126 diesel multiple units among others). In latter years, as a cost reduction exercise, the signal boxes were only single shift manned, resulting in the last train of the day being around 7pm.

The line between Elderslie and Kilmacolm closed completely and between Elderslie and Shields Junction to scheduled passenger services on 10 January 1983.[2]

Use as a diversionary route[edit]

The tracks between Shields Junction and Elderslie Junction were used for another two or three years to enable heavy merry-go-round coal and iron ore traffic from Hunterston Ore Terminal, on the Ayrshire Coast Line, to bypass the main line between Elderslie Junction, Paisley Gilmour Street Station and Glasgow Shields Junction. There were also occasional passenger train diversions away from Paisley Gilmour Street due to works associated with the AyrLine electrification project.

However, even this traffic was diverted onto the line through Paisley Gilmour Street and the Paisley Canal line was closed completely to all traffic between Hawkhead and Elderslie, partly as a result of the resignalling scheme associated with the AyrLine electrification project resulting in the severing of the line at Elderslie. The section between Hawkhead and Shields Junction remained open to serve the oil depot.

Disposal of land at Paisley Canal and beyond[edit]

The rails between Elderslie and Paisley Canal station were lifted in 1986. The land around Paisley Canal station, including the line and the goods yard, was developed for housing.[2] The station building became a steakhouse[2] and the former passenger over-bridge between the two platforms was demolished and the gap between the two platforms filled in.

Much of the abandoned railway line beyond the original Paisley Canal station has now been developed into a cycleway and walkway operated by Sustrans.[2]

Reopening to Paisley Canal station[edit]

Plaque at Paisley Canal station commemorating the 1990 re-opening of the Paisley Canal branch line

On 27 July 1990,[2] part of the line was reopened by Strathclyde Passenger Transport and passenger services resumed on the section from Glasgow Central station to a new Paisley Canal railway station built just to the east of the railway overbridge carrying Causeyside Street. A new, single platform, station had to be built at Paisley Canal, on the old trackbed.

The intermediate stations at the time of closure seven years earlier, Corkerhill, Mosspark and Crookston, were re-opened at the same time, with only one platform being brought back into use. Subsequently, new stations at Hawkhead (one platform) and Dumbreck (two platforms) were opened.


As part of the 1980s Ayrshire Coast Line electrification the line between Shields Junction and Corkerhill was electrified, including Corkerhill Depot.

Electrification of the section of line from Corkerhill to Paisley Canal, to a plan devised by a ScotRail and Network Rail alliance, began in July 2012[4] and was completed in November 2012. The electrification works were undertaken during night time and weekend possessions, resulting in the route closing after 8pm on Monday to Thursday evenings, all day on Saturdays, and for an eight-day period in October, with work starting on 29 September 2012 and intending to be completed by 8 November 2012.[5][6]

Class 314 and Class 380 electric multiple units supplemented the existing Class 156 diesel multiple units from energisation of the wires in November 2012. From the timetable change in December 2012, the Class 156 were moved to other routes.


The re-opening of the section between Paisley Canal station and Elderslie has been proposed.[7][8]



  1. ^ a b Thomas, pull out map: Glasgow and the Clyde
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Wham, Journey A
  3. ^ 1st Edition Ordnance Survey, Sheet 30
  4. ^ "£12m "alliance" investment for Paisley Canal line". Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  5. ^ "Alliance cuts cost of Paisley Canal line electrification". Railway Gazette International (DVV Media UK). 11 June 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  6. ^ First ScotRail Ltd. "Paisley Canal timetable changes - ScotRail". Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  7. ^ "Transport Scotland Proposals". Retrieved 2009-01-07. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Office of Rail Regulation". Retrieved 2009-01-07.