16 March 2014

No louts on Glasgow's Subway

"Transport Police to Buchanan Station, please."

The message broadcast at the city centre station on Glasgow's diminutive underground train system was unequivocal, writes Brian Byrne. Loutishness will not be tolerated.

As I exited the station I had no doubt that the group of lads shouting and stamping in the train on the opposite platform would quickly be told where to get off, and helped firmly on their way.

The Subway is the third oldest in the world, established in 1896 and originally operated by a clever and clean cable system powered by a central steam engine. Nowadays it's electric, bright, efficient ... and cute.

It's a small gauge track, and the modern trains are painted orange, though that's not the official name of the colour because of political concerns. The system is also circular, so it's possibly the easiest to navigate in the world too. It was completely modernised in 1980, and the system continues to be updated. Easy, rechargeable 'smart' tickets are used.

With 15 stations and something over 10km of track, it's a real handy way of getting around Glasgow's centre and the Clydeside area.

I got on board at the Partick Interchange station, a bright and modern facility in one of the historically ancient neighbourhoods of the City. The really cool sports-based murals on the gables of the buildings in the square give it a vibrant feel. Sport has a history here too — Partick was where the first ever international football match was played, in 1872 between Scotland and England.

And, by the way, thanks to the Subway I got back to base nicely in time to see Ireland win the Six Nations. It was a hard game against France, which is the best way to win.

Finally, don't ask locals how to get to 'The Clockwork Orange'. The story that this is the nickname for the system is a media invention from the time of modernisation. It's 'The Subway'. Used to be 'The Snoogly Train', but that's another story ...

Now I'm heading out to see what a Sunday morning has to offer in this fascinating and vibrant city.