Glasgow to Edinburgh Railway

History of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway

The Act of Parliament required to begin building the railway received its Royal Assent in 1838, with servicing starting on the line on 21st February 1842. The original route was from Glasgow Queen Street to Haymarket, with the line being extended in 1846 to terminate at Edinburgh General, the former name for Edinburgh Waverley.

Accidents on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway

There have been a number of accidents over the years on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, though thankfully it is now about 30 years since the last one as rail and train safety has improved significantly.

On 13th October 1862, the Winchburgh rail crash happened, in which 15 people died and 35 were injured. North west of Winchburgh station, there is a cutting in the curve of the line, and only one of the lines was in use that day due to track maintenance. At 6:30pm, due to a pointsman error in letting through an unauthorised train, two trains met in a head-on collision.

On 27th January 1874, the Bo’ness Junction rail crash occurred, leaving 16 people dead and 28 injured. The East Coast Scotch Express service had divided at Edinburgh, with the first portion set as the 07:02 for Glasgow, and the second portion set as the 07:07 for Perth. After the Glasgow portion had past, station staff seemed to mistake it for the Perth portion, and allowed a goods train which was waiting in a siding at Bo’ness Junction to be shunted onto the main line, right into the path of the Perth train.

On 3rd January 1917, the Ratho rail crash took place, killing 12 people and injuring 46. A light engine was sitting at a junction signal box near Ratho station. Unsafe hand signals were given, and the light engine uncoupled and moved without authorisation onto the mainline. The 16:18 express train from Edinburgh to Glasgow collided with it, the first coach being telescoped, and the second coach being derailed.

On 10th December 1937, the first of two rail accidents at Castlecary took place, leaving 35 people dead and 179 injured. Weather conditions were terrible, with heavy snow and a whiteout. At 6:00pm, the (late running) 4:20pm service from Dundee Tay Bridge to Glasgow Queen Street was stationary at Castlecary station. The 5:30pm express train from Edinburgh Waverley to Glasgow Queen Street ran straight into the back of the standing train at approximately 70mph, completely destroying the last four coaches of the standing train, and shunting its engine 100 yards forward, even although the brakes were on.

On 9th September 1968, Castlecary saw its second fatal rail accident, with 2 people killed. It was another rear-end collision at Castlecary: a communication problem led a light engine to pass a signal at danger, and crashed into a stationary train at Castlecary station.

On 30th July 1984, the Polmont rail crash happened, leaving 13 people dead and 61 people injured. The 5:30pm service from Edinburgh to Glasgow travelled through Polmont station at approximately 85mph, before the driver saw a cow on the line in a cutting, and applied the emergency brakes. This was too late, however, the train hitting the cow at a fast speed, with part of the carcass becoming lodged under the wheel, lifting the train up, and causing it to derail. Because a push-pull configuration was being used, with the engine at the rear of the train, the “front” of the train was lighter than the rear. Accordingly, the front carriage rode up the cutting into trees, and the weight of the train behind caused the second carriage to somersault in the air and land on top of the fifth carriage as it passed underneath. Many passengers were thrown out of windows. This accident raised the issue of the extent to which push-pull arrangements were safe – although they were retained, again being said to exacerbate the carnage in the Selby rail crash less than 20 years later.

Route of the Railway and Stations

The current route of the railway begins at Glasgow Queen Street, before passing through the long Cowlairs Tunnel. There used to be a station here, called Cowlairs station. After Cowlairs Junction, the first station on the line is Bishopbriggs, where services to Perth, Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa currently stop, but services to Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness tend not to stop. Then comes Lenzie station, with the same service stops applying as for Bishopbriggs. There used to be another station just down the line, Garngaber Goods, now closed. The next station is Croy, which is a common changing station for passengers wishing to transfer between local trains and the Glasgow to Edinburgh express.

Three further stations were located after Croy, all now closed – Dullatur, Castlecary and Bonnybridge High. The next station on the line is Falkirk High, a common changing station and the main station on the line between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley.

Then, after the Falkirk Tunnel, comes Polmont station itself. There was then another station called Lochmill Goods, now disused, before coming to Linlithgow station. Then comes the disused stations of Philpstoun and Winchburgh. The line then enters the Winchburgh Tunnel, before emerging onto a fantastic viaduct with a great view over the surrounding area including right down the main runway of Edinburgh Airport. There were four further stations on the line, all disused – Ratho, Gogar, Gogar Goods, and Saughton.

The next station on the line nowadays is Haymarket, Edinburgh’s secondary train station, before the line enters the long Haymarket Tunnel, emerging beneath Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street Gardens, and finally terminating (or continuing for through trains travelling to North Berwick, Dunbar or England) at Edinburgh Waverley.

Trains on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway

Coming soon.

The Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Today

Coming soon.

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