Glasgow South Western Line

Glasgow South Western Line

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 south of Kilmarnock was built by the Glasgow, Dumfries and Carlisle Railway and the Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway which amalgamated to form the Glasgow and South Western Railway in 1850. The line between Kilmarnock and Glasgow was previously known as the Glasgow, Barrhead and Kilmarnock Joint Railway and was co-owned by the Glasgow and South Western Railway and 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, leaving the present 'Y' shaped railway.

During the electrification of the West Coast Main Line in the early 1970s, 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 shared with the Ayrshire Coast Line (Troon to Ayr).

There are currently plans to re-double the line between Lugton and Stewarton.

There have been several studies recently as to the possibility of reopening Thornhill station, roughly halfway between Dumfries and Sanquhar.


The line serves the following places.
*Glasgow Central
*Pollokshaws West:"East Kilbride branch":*Thornliebank:*Giffnock:*Clarkston:*Busby:*Thorntonhall:*Hairmyres:*East Kilbride
*Priesthill & Darnley
*Kilmarnock:"Stranraer line":*Troon:*Prestwick International Airport:*Prestwick Town:*Ayr:*Maybole:*Girvan:*Barrhill:*StranraerAfter Kilmarnock, the line crosses the Ballochmyle Viaduct.
*New Cumnock
*Gretna Green
*Newcastle (limited service via the Tyne Valley Line)


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 First 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 New Cumnock and Girvan the line is operated by Scottish Train Operating Company (TOC) - currently First ScotRail - on behalf of the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport. 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, with a daily direct service between Newcastle and Stranraer via Kilmarnock.


The train chase sequence in the 1996 movie "" was filmed on the Glasgow South Western line, with the image of a French TGV laid over the top of the footage of a standard British train using CGI.


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