Glasgow aims for 'fully driverless' subway trains


The revamped Glasgow Subway could be the first rail service in the UK to run trains without any staff on board.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), which is carrying out a refurbishment of the city’s underground system costing £288m, confirmed that it aimed to run ‘fully driverless’ trains, sometimes without any staff, on board once passenger screens are in place at all stations.

SPT announced in 2016 that new trains would not have drivers

A spokesperson told Transport Network that there would always be staff to assist passengers, although these might be on platforms, rather than on the trains themselves.

She added that as SPT was subject to regulation by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), it would have to comply if the ORR said that additional staff were needed during peak times or during football matches.

Charles Hoskins, SPT’s senior director with responsibility for the Subway, told The Scotsman: ‘We will always have staff in the system, but it is not our plan to have a member of staff on every train. These will be the first fully driverless trains in the UK.’

Other light rail systems, such as London’s Docklands Light Railway, currently run trains without drivers but with a member of staff to open and close train doors.

Pat McIlvogue of the Unite union told the Scotsman: ‘SPT’s future vision involves a subway system which is ticketless, with no counter staff, no staff on platforms and no staff on trains.

‘If that is to be the case, Unite has to raise the issue of what happens when something goes wrong?

‘So there are remaining health and safety issues that are being avoided. For example, does the SPT vision involve staff-less trains when the subway is packed with fans going to Ibrox for a Rangers game?’

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