Glasgow South Western Line

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Glasgow South Western Line
Railway line passing under the road to Bellfield Farm - - 520271.jpg
A coal train from Ayrshire heads towards England
Type Heavy rail, Rural Rail[1]
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Scotland
North West England
Termini Newcastle
East Kilbride
Glasgow Central
Stations 26
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Abellio ScotRail
Rolling stock Class 156 "Super Sprinter"
Number of tracks Double track and Single line with Passing loops [1]
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Operating speed 80 mph (129 km/h) maximum [1]
Glasgow South Western Line
Glasgow Central (Glasgow Subway St Enoch)
Glasgow Central
(Low Level)
Left arrow Glasgow Central Railway Right arrow
River Clyde
Glasgow Bridge Street
Left arrow Glasgow Subway Right arrow
Glasgow and Paisley
Joint Railway
Left arrow
Bridge Street Junction
City Union Line Left arrow
Eglinton Junction
Eglinton Street
Down arrow to
West Coast Main Line
Polloc & Govan Rly section
Left arrow Polloc and Govan Railway Right arrow
Pollokshields East
General Terminus and
Glasgow Harbour Railway
Left arrow
LowerRight arrow Cathcart District Railway
Right arrow
Glasgow, Barrhead and
Kilmarnock Joint Railway
River Cart
Pollokshaws West
Busby Junction
Priesthill & Darnley
Thornliebank Goods
to Potterhill Left arrow
Left arrow Cathcart Circle Lines Right arrow
to Paisley Left arrow
to Patterton Right arrow
Barrhead Central
Neilston Low
Busby Print Works
East Kilbride
Down arrow to Hunthill Junction
Kilmarnock West Junction
Kilmarnock Joint Goods
to Crosshouse Left arrow
Kilmarnock Central Junction
Kilmarnock East Junction
Kilmarnock Goods
Kilmarnock (original)
Kay Park Junction
Riccarton and Craigie
LowerRight arrow Darvel Branch
Right arrow to Darvel Branch
Down arrow Ayr to Mauchline Branch
Ayrshire Coast Line Left arrow
Mauchline Junction
Barassie Junction
Troon Harbour
Troon Goods
Auchinleck Junction
P&O Ferries
to Larne
P&O Ferries Troon(old)
LowerRight arrow
Glasgow, Paisley,
Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway
Lochgreen Junction
Cumnock (original)
Old Cumnock Junction
to Annbank Right arrow
Down arrow Ayr to Mauchline Branch Right arrow
Glasgow Prestwick Airport
International Airport
New Cumnock
Prestwick Town
Up arrow Ayr to Mauchline Branch
Newton Junction
Hawkhill Junction
bus link to
Cairnryan Harbour
Bus interchange Ayr
Alloway Junction
Maidens and
Dunure Railway
LowerLeft arrow
Maybole Junction
Left arrow Cairn Valley Railway
Dalrymple Junction
Left arrow
Castle Douglas
and Dumfries Railway
to Dalmellington LowerRight arrow
Right arrow
Dumfries, Lochmaben and
Lockerbie Railway
Dumfries Goods
Maybole (old)
Left arrow Solway Junction Railway Right arrow
Grangeston Halt
Maidens and
Dunure Railway
Left arrow
Girvan (old)
Gretna Green
Up arrow
West Coast Main Line
Caledonian Main Line section
Gretna Junction
CaledonianBorder Union
New Luce
LowerRight arrow Waverley Route
Portpatrick and Wigtownshire
Joint Railway
UpperRight arrow
Challoch Junction
Down arrow West Coast Main Line
Castle Kennedy
Military Railway
Left arrow
to Portpatrick Right arrow
ferry/water interchange
bus to Cairnryan
for Belfast ferry
Bus interchange Stranraer

The Glasgow South Western Line is a mainline railway in Scotland that runs from Glasgow to Kilmarnock, and then either Carlisle via Dumfries, or Stranraer via Ayr, with a branch to East Kilbride.


The line was built by several railway companies during the 19th century:[2]

The Glasgow, Dumfries and Carlisle Railway and the Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway amalgamated to form the Glasgow and South Western Railway in 1850.

The Glasgow, Barrhead and Neilston Direct Railway and Glasgow and Kilmarnock Joint Railway were amalgamated to form the Glasgow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Joint Railway jointly operated by the Glasgow and South Western Railway and Caledonian Railway.

The lines forming the East Kilbride branch were operated by the Caledonian Railway.

Until 1923 the line via Dumfries was in competition with the North British Railway and Caledonian Railway as one of the mainlines into Scotland. With the passing of the Railways Act 1921 (Grouping Act) the line became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS).

In 1948, with nationalisation the line became part of the Scottish Region of British Railways. During the Beeching Axe in the 1960s many of the railway's branch lines were closed, including the direct route between Dumfries and Stranraer, via Galloway on the Portpatrick and Wigtownshire Joint Railway and Castle Douglas and Dumfries Railway, leaving the present 'Y' shaped railway. The former G&SWR terminus at Glasgow St Enoch was also closed in this period (in 1966), with all services rerouted into Glasgow Central.

During the electrification of the West Coast Main Line in the early 1970s by British Rail, the line was used as a major diversionary route whilst the Caledonian Railway's Annandale/Clydesdale route was closed, particularly during the weekends. Following completion of this project, the sections of line between Barrhead and Kilmarnock (with a crossing loop at Lugton) and Annan and Gretna (controlled from Carlisle) were singled. Re-doubling of the Annan to Gretna section was completed in August 2008, controlled from Dumfries Station signal box.

The line is not electrified, with the exception of parts of the line around the approaches to Glasgow Central and the section of the line (Barassie to Ayr) shared with the Ayrshire Coast Line (Ayr to Glasgow via Kilwinning). In early 2009, work commenced to re-double the line between Lugton and Stewarton based on the 2008 plans published by Network Rail.[3] Completed in September 2009, this allows ScotRail to run a half-hourly service to Kilmarnock. Right now the route is currently operated by British Rail Class 156 units

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 1 August 2015, a ballast train ran into the rear of another ballast train at Cumnock. Both trains were derailed.[4]


Trains serve the following stations.

East Kilbride branch
Stranraer line


Class 156s at Kilmarnock

In the latter years of British Railways, operations were sectorised. All Scottish operations (excluding the WCML and ECML services), including this line, became part of the Regional Railways operation - being branded as ScotRail.

Following privatisation, passenger services upon the line were taken over by ScotRail, (part of National Express), and are now operated by Abellio ScotRail with the track and signalling being operated (nationally) by Network Rail. The Dumfries route remains one of only three railway lines between the Scottish border and lowland areas alongside the East Coast Main Line and West Coast Main Line. Along with the Settle-Carlisle Railway, the line is much used as both a diversionary route, especially during the recent West Coast Main Line modernisation, and for freight, notably coal from the several open cast coalmines of the Ayrshire Coalfield that adjoin the line.

Between Glasgow Central and Gretna Green and Girvan the line is operated by the Scottish Train Operating Company (TOC) - currently ScotRail. Electric train services are also provided between Glasgow and Troon and Ayr via the Ayrshire Coast Line. Some services continue on from Carlisle to Newcastle, though the daily direct services between Newcastle and Stranraer via Kilmarnock that once ran over the route were withdrawn in December 2009. There are also a number of through services between Glasgow & Stranraer that run direct via Paisley & Kilwinning (others run via Kilmarnock, as do certain trains to/from Girvan[5]). From the December 2015 timetable change, new Scotrail franchisee Abiello has changed the timetable on the Stranraer line - the service frequency to/from Ayr has increased from six trains each way to nine on weekdays (and three to five on Sundays), but there are now no longer any direct trains to Glasgow via Paisley - all services now run via Kilmarnock.

In the 1970s, most of the intermediate stations between Kilmarnock and Carlisle were closed, leaving only Kirkconnel, Dumfries and Annan. Since then, the stations at New Cumnock, Auchinleck, Sanquhar and Gretna Green have been reopened. There have been several studies recently as to the possibility of reopening Thornhill station, roughly halfway between Dumfries and Sanquhar.[citation needed]

Rail & Sea Connections[edit]

The Glasgow South Western Line links into the ferries at Stranraer via the bus connecting with Cairnryan for the Stena Line ferries to the Port of Belfast and the P&O Ferries to Larne Harbour. The Stena Line ships (previously Sealink) ran from Stranraer Harbour until 2011. A bus connection to Cairnryan is also now provided from Ayr. Onward rail connections are provided by Northern Ireland Railways.

Former Ferries[edit]

The line also connected Troon to the P&O Ferries service to Larne Harbour.



  1. ^ a b c Business Plan 2007 Network Rail. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
  2. ^ Awdry
  3. ^
  4. ^ Dalton, Alastair (1 August 2015). "Trains crash near Cumnock in Ayrshire". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 August 2015. 
  5. ^ GB Rail Timetables 216 & 218, May 2013


  • Awdry, Christopher (1990). Encyclopaedia of British Railway Companies. Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 1-8526-0049-7. OCLC 19514063. 
  • Butt, R. V. J. (1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199. 
  • Jowett, Alan (March 1989). Jowett's Railway Atlas of Great Britain and Ireland: From Pre-Grouping to the Present Day (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-086-0. OCLC 22311137. 
  • Yonge, John (May 1987). Gerald Jacobs, ed. British Rail Track Diagams - Book 1: ScotRail (1st ed.). Exeter: Quail Map Company. ISBN 0-9006-0948-6. 
  • Yonge, John (February 1993). Gerald Jacobs, ed. Railway Track Diagams - Book 1: Scotland and the Isle of Man (2nd ed.). Exeter: Quail Map Company. ISBN 0-9006-0995-8. 
  • Yonge, John (April 1996). Gerald Jacobs, ed. Railway Track Diagams - Book 1: Scotland and the Isle of Man (3rd ed.). Exeter: Quail Map Company. ISBN 1-8983-1919-7. 
  • Yonge, John (2007). Gerald Jacobs, ed. Railway Track Diagams - Book 1: Scotland & Isle of Man (Quail Track Plans) (fifth ed.). Bradford on Avon: Trackmaps (formerly Quail Map Co). ISBN 978-0-9549866-3-6. OCLC 79435248. 

Further reading[edit]