Scotland Transport National
Living in Scotland all my life, Scotrail is the only experience I've ever had of the railways. And I'm glad to say that the experience has, almost invariably, been positive. I am a regular commuter on the North Clyde Line between Coatbridge and Glasgow. The trains are extremely reliable, even in the peaks. I've never been ... late because of Scotrail. The service provided onboard is generally good, and the trains (especially the newer ones) are comfortable for the short journey. The ride into Glasgow is quick, and much easier than sitting on a congested motorway. It's also much cheaper than trying to park your car in the West End! Crowding is an issue on some of the trains in the height of the peak, but on the whole it's not bad.
I also use them for longer distance runs as well, to Aberdeen and Inverness. The service on these trains is exemplary. The frequent trains to the North are invariably clean and pleasant, with very helpful onboard staff. The Turbostars are comfortable, and have nice large windows so you can enjoy some of Scotland's finest views.
The catering is generally good for a cup of tea or coffee (the prices for which are better than those in the stations), although they are still pretty expensive. If you do choose to get a sandwich or biscuit, expect to pay a lot more than you would anywhere else.
Scotrail have a way to go yet. There's still cases where staff don't deal with delays well, and a few station staff at my local station (Blairhill) can be very rude. But it's not fair to let a few members of staff spoil affect the overall review, because the majority of them are friendly and very helpful.
And some of the older trains could do with a refurbishment or renewal, although this is mostly what the company have inherited from the previous operators.
Travelling by train with Scotrail is a pleasure, and I would recommend Scotrail to anyone.
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I have used First Scotrail (Scotrail before First bought over) for the last 8 years so I should be able to give a decent review of their services! The train service I use is mainly for commuting, originally to school and now to university. My average journey time is around 20-25mins. The service has generally been very good with only the ... odd train having serious delays, this was improved vastly when First took over.
Scotrail provides a very good train network that links up the majority of densely populated areas in Scotland. However, if travelling to some of the more remote areas then the train probably isn't a good economical decision. Some of their fares for remote areas up North are horrendous.
And that leads into the worst part, the ticket costs. Scotrail are just so blooming expensive. £5 it costs me to travel 50mins into uni and back! Their prices have been increasing steadily for as long as I can remember and it is becoming less and less inviting to take the train. In fact, the only reason I choose to get the train is to beat rush hour traffic on certain days of the week. If I don't need to be in early I just jump in the car.
Scotrail's service between the major cities is very good though and much more economical price wise than the silly fees for the small commuter journeys. I regularly get the train from Glasgow to Edinburgh to watch the rugby and get the luxury of sitting in first class, just don't tell anyone you haven't actually paid for the first class ticket!
All in all, they do provide a pretty good service but would be a lot nicer if their prices weren't so high!
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The Glasgow Underground is the underground train system which takes you around Central & the West of Glasgow. It is called the Subway by just about everyone and this idea that it is known as The Clockwork Orange is complete rubbish! Nobody in Glasgow calls it that! So, here are the ins and outs of the ... subway!
The Glasgow Underground was opened in 1896 making it the third oldest subway after London and Budapest. It converted from steam railway to electric over a 10 year period starting in 1923. It was then closed for 3 years from 1977 as it was modernised. I couldn't imagined living without the subway for 3 years! So 113 years later, it still stands!
The subway is basically two rings, the inner circle (which goes in an anti-clockwise direction around the ring) and the outer circle (which is clockwise). There are 15 stops which are split down the middle by the River Clyde. Eight of the stations are north of the river and the final seven are south. All the stations are located in either the west or centre of Glasgow, these stations are; Buchanan Street, St. Enoch, Bridge Street, West Street, Shields Road, Kinning Park, Cessnock, Ibrox, Govan, Patrick, Kelvinhall, Hillhead, Kelvinbridge, St. George's Cross and finally Cowcaddens.
There are connections between certain train stations and the underground, such as Buchanan Street which is very close to Central Station & Queen Street Station. To get to Central Station from Buchanan Street Subway, go out the bottom exit of the subway and walk down Buchanan Street until you reach TGI Friday's, turn right along Gordon Street and then you will see the main entrance of Central Station. To get to Queen Street Station from Buchanan Street Subway, you don't really need to exit the subway at all. There is a kind of exit on the right as you come out the turnstiles which will take you to Queen Street Station. Buchana Street Subway is also close to Buchanan Bus Station, you just go up Buchanan Street, turn left so you're walking along Sauchiehall Street then you turn right up towards Cineworld cinema and turn right and the bus station will be infront of you. St. Enoch is connected to both Central Station (turn left at the top entrance of St. Enoch subway and go under Central Bridge) and also Argyle Street Station (turn right out of the top entrance of St. Enoch subway). Partick underground station is right below Partick train station.
.::What it all looks like like::.
- The trains
The trains are mainly orange and yellow on the outside, sometimes one or two of the trains with have an advertisement on the whole of a carriage. For instance, just now, there is a picture of Lorraine Kelly and a few other famous chaps on the middle carriage of one of the trains to advertise the Sun. There has also been advertisements for Burns Day and the Homecoming Scotland stuff.
Inside the carriages, there is a row of seats (basically just one big seat) along either side of the carriage which are covered in the usual train material. There are metal bars along the length of the carriage so that anyone standing has something to hold onto - although, freestyling the Subway is somewhat of a sport. Just wait until it's quiet before you do it!
- The stations
Many of the stations are kind of dull and 70s looking with tiles and brown & beige colours, such as St. Enoch and Hillhead. Others are quite bright looking and feel really modern such as Cessnock and Kinning Park.
The stations are kept really tidy and clean, even after a football match!
Here is a list of some of the stations and the places near them. I haven't included a list of everything because some of it's quite boring and also, it's easy to find it on the SPT website which I'll include at the end.
- Buchanan Street
City Halls and Old Fruitmarket
Gallery of Modern Art
Glasgow Caledonian University
Glasgow Queen Street Station
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
The Italian Centre
The Pavillion Theatre
University of Strathclyde
- St. Enoch
St Enoch Centre
- Bridge Street
Glasgow Central Mosque
- Shield's Road
Scotland Street School Museum
BBC Scotland Studios
Glasgow Science Centre
Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC)
The Glasgow Climbing Centre
Ibrox Stadium (Rangers FC)
Govan Old Parish Church
Southern General Hospital
Glasgow Western Infirmary
Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena
Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
The Museum of Transport
Queen Mother's Maternity Hospital
Yorkhill Childrens Hospital
Glasgow Botanic Gardens & Kibble Palace
Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Museum and Kelvin Gallery
University of Glasgow
Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT)
Glasgow School of Art
The Kings Theatre
Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
The Willow Tearooms
Ever since the attack at Glasgow Airport, safety stepped up a notch in Glasgow. Although, it all seems to have died down now. At the entrances and exits to every subway station, there is now bollards so no vehicles can get through. Also, for few months afterwards, there were police at many of the subway stations. I've not seen any in a while now though, apart from when there's a game on at Ibrox. I found it quite unnerving when there were police officers at the stations, it didn't make me feel any safer. But I'm sure if something where to happen, it would be better for them to be there than not.
.::Park & Ride::.
There are various park & ride facilities available in the hope that people will stop taking their cars into the centre of Glasgow. All you have to do is park your car at the car park next to the subway station then ride the subway to wherever you want to go. The stations which have this facility are Kelvinbridge, Shields Road and Bridge Street. It costs £5 for a full day's parking and to ride the subway.
The problem I have with this is that people are still taking their car into the centre of Glasgow basically. It'd be more environmentally friendly and economical just to get the train into either Central Station (most trains take you there)
.::Tickets & Prices::.
For the subway, you don't get a return or single to a certain station. You just get a ticket for the whole subway. It doesn't matter where you're going, it'll cost the same.
There are various tickets available for the subway, so it's easy to find one that suits your needs.
Adult Single: £1.20, Child Single: £0.60
Adult Return: £2.40, Child Return: £1.20
Adult 10 Journey: £10.00, Child 10 Journey: £5
Adult 7 Day Ticket: £13.00, Child 7 Day Ticket: £6.50
Adult Discovery Ticket (Unlimited Travel for One Day): £3.50
Adult 20 Journey: £18, Child 20 Journey £9.50
Concession card holders (single only): £0.40
You can also use Zone Cards at the Subway, as long as you can use them in Zone 1.
I think the Subway's really expensive. The prices all recent went up about 50p, so I'm still in shock from having to hand over more than £2. I can get a train from my local station to Central station, which is a journey of about 4 miles and it will only cost me £1.20 for a return. It would be better if the Subway charged for how far you're going like normal trains. Also, I think child and adult prices should be same - on all train services. We all take up the same amount of space, so why should we be paying different prices?
To get your ticket, you just go to the ticket booth which is easy to locate within the subway station. Just watch though, they always give you 5p's in change, really annoys me! There are also ticket machines available at many of the busiest subway stations, these only provide Child/Adult Single or Return tickets though and usually aren't in service, which can prove to be really annoying as there's quite often long queues.
The first train on the outer circle (starting at Buchanan Street) is at 06.35 Monday to Saturday and 10.03 on a Sunday.
The first train on the inner circle (starting at St. Enoch) is at 06.33 Monday to Saturday and 10.10 on a Sunday.
The last train on the outer circle (from Buchanan Street) is 23.10 Monday to Saturday and 17.39 on a Sunday.
The last train on the inner circle (from St. Enoch) is 23.13 Monday to Saturday and 17.36 on a Sunday.
I've found that there can be some variety in the service you receive from the staff at the Subway stations. A lot of the time, the staff seem really bored and I can imagine it's quite a mundane job. There's not really much emphasis on being polite and smiling, but they do give you what you need - your ticket! Sometimes you can get a person who's really smiley, says please and thank you, but that's a rare occurance. If you do need help, just ask.
On the subway carriages, there are designated areas for elderly people and people who are disabled. There are escalators in most of the stations. Due to the stations being quite small, it's impossible to provide wheelchair access. There is also amplification equipment for those who are a bit hard of hearing and you are also able to take guide dogs on the subway.
The easiest thing to do if you have extra needs when travelling on the subway is to ask staff for help. I know I've made them to sound quite grumpy, but they would definitely help you if you need it.
You are also asked to fold up pushchairs and other large equipment because the carriages are so small.
.::Using the subway::.
This is a step-by-step guide on how to use the subway!
Step 1. Purchase your ticket from the ticket booth or the ticket dispensing machines.
Step 2. Figure out which line you're going on, there are posters telling you what line you should use to get to the station you want to get to! Even if you get it wrong, you will get to your station eventually!
Step 3. Put your ticket into the front of the turnstile, then lift it out the top ***before*** walking through.
Step 4. Wait for the train, read the numerous posters around the station!
Step 5. Get on the train and look at other people's shoes, then get embarrassed when you notice someone has noticed you looking at their shoes.
Step 6. Get off at the stop you want, which is clearly marked on the walls on the station.
.::What it's actually like to ride the subway::.
As a student, I am a regular on the subway and would like to give out my first hand experience in using the subway. It is generally quite an OK and pleasant experience, it gets you from A to B without any fuss!
- How often do the trains come?
The trains are pretty regular with one coming every 2-5 minutes in busier times, although you can wait up to 8 minutes at the slow times of the day. I always seem to arrive at the station just as a train has gone, which is just my luck! A sign lets you know how long it will be until the next train, but usually it's not as long as the signs state.
- Getting on the train!
I know this seems like a strange thing to put, but it's a necessity. There were times when I was in my first year at university with my 9am starts and I would not be able to get on the train to save my life! It was just so damn cramped! I have literally seen people have their faces flat against the window as the train was so crushed. They usually have a member of staff at the station platform to help people on the train and ask people to move along the carriage so more people can fit on, but there are times when you have to watch 2 or 3 trains go by until there is one with enough space on it for you to get on! This is usually only at peak times (between 8am and 9.30am or 4pm and 6pm).
***A tip for getting on the train!***
If you're getting on at Buchanan Street and using the inner circle at a busy time - don't! Go to St. Enoch instead, you won't get a seat at St. Enoch, but a lot of people get off when the train gets to Buchanan Street and then you are able to sit down before the people get on! It's impossible to get a seat if you get on at Buchanan Street in the morning, believe me!
- When not to use the subway
It is very...umm...atmospheric to use the subway when there is a football game on at Ibrox. I had the misfortune of using the subway to get to a Ranger's game at Ibrox (I'm not a big footy fan, Ranger's were playing AC Milan and I really wanted to see David Beckham!) - I will talk you through the experience.
I had to wait in the longest queue ever for a ticket, then when I finally got through (along with all the drunken supporters) and got on the train, I was engulfed in a sea of blue shirts. There were so many people on the train and as many of them were male and much taller than me, I couldn't see a thing and my nose was in many of their armpits! They also decided to sing some very nice songs and jump up and down. With that, the whole carriage shook! It was seriously scary! Getting back was even worse, there was a huge queue outside the subway station to get back, police on horses only letting a limited number of people through at a time. Luckily, my boyfriend and I managed to jump to the front of the queue. We decided to go on the less busy line as well, even though it was longer, it was much quieter!
I would really avoid using the subway when a game's on. SPT usually put up signs letting people know there's a game and what time they expect the station to be busy at. On the website, the list upcoming games so that you can be aware when to avoid the subway as it will be a nightmare! There is also a lot of police presence so you feel safe during game times.
- Any problems?
When there is a problem on the subway, it's a big thing! It's all anyone talks about! Over my three years of using it almost every day, there has only been a handful of problems that have occured. One I remember was when a train had stopped between two stations (scariest thing ever!!!) so the whole of the outer circle was stopped, meaning everyone was travelling on the inner circle.
Also, sometimes, they stop the trains at certain stations. It seems to mainly be at Govan or Partick, I don't know why they do this - I never travel far enough to know.
If there are any problems, they will announce them over the speakers and also there is a sign which will list any problems.
- Entertainment on the Subway
This is something that is done by students in particular. The idea of it is that you get on the Subway, getting off at every stop to take in the local drinking delights near that subway station. Get it: Subcrawl...Pubcrawl! I've never done this as I'm not much of a drinker, but I've heard it's fun. It'll be cheap as well as all you need is a Discovery Ticket for the whole night. Oh, and your drinks...
A couple of times, Taggart have been filming on the Subway when I've been there so if you fancy a chance to appear on the telly, the Subway's the place to be. Also, Central Station has also been known to have some crews filming there.
Other People's Music
You can't not go on the Subway without listening to other people's music. I am one of those people who play their music in their iPod to loud so the whole carriage can hear, but I also quite enjoy listening to other people's music when they do the same.
Those on O2
If you are with O2, you may be able to receive texts and phonecalls when you're below ground. I think O2 are currently the only network to make this available, but hopefully others will follow soon.
This is a great sport, especially on the Subway. You get all types of people - I'm not going to describe them as I'll probably offend a lot of people. But it is fun to do on the subway!
If you need more information about the subway, SPT's website is a good place to start: http://www.spt.co.uk/subway/. On this website, you can find more information about the Park & Ride scheme, 'Places of Interest' (which is where most of the list above came from) and whole load of other information!
I also found a book when I was doing some research for this review. It's called Glasgow Subway Album: A Collection of Photographs of the Old Glasgow Subway Taken Before and During Closure for Modernisation by George Watson. If anyone's interested in what the subway looked like before it closed for three years, this would be a great book to get.
The Subway is a good wee system that takes you around some of the main parts of the city. It's quick and fairly reliable, so you're never going to be waiting long for a train. I think it can be quite expensive, especially if you're just going one or two stops. I would always work out if you can walk to the stop you want to get to first; it's healthier and cheaper! I've walked all the way from St. Enoch to Hillhead before! I think the fact that it doesn't have many disabled facilities, especially for wheelchair users, lets it down a bit. But there are lots of other ways to get around Glasgow if you need extra assistance.
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Scotland Transport National
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