Glasgow’s east end, like the east end of London, has suffered urban decay with the closure of its major industries. Dalmarnock, 2 miles south-east of the city centre, was one of Glasgow’s earliest industrial centres due to its extensive river frontage along the Clyde. Industries included various weaving factories, a cotton mill, gas works, iron works, tube works and a factory owned by Sir William Arrol (of Forth Bridge fame). With these long gone, the area was in urgent need of large-scale regeneration.
Just as with London’s Olympics, the driver for this regeneration is sport. For Glasgow, the 2014 Commonwealth games is an opportunity to transform its east end. So, on the site of old factories and tenements are now the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, the National Indoor Sports Arena and the athletes’ village which will eventually provide 700 homes. Also nearby is the not-so-new Parkhead stadium, home of Celtic Football Club.
The area’s transport links are also being developed for the games. A new road network foils most sat navs and the local station, Dalmarnock, is being transformed into a worthy public transport gateway for the games.
Three track levels
Dalmarnock station has a varied history.
A high level station opened in 1841 on the long-gone Switchback railway which skirted Glasgow’s east side. The current low level station, which opened in 1895, was part of the Glasgow Central Railway that runs under the city’s streets and its Central station. This line closed in 1964 and was re-opened in 1979 as the Argyle line, part of Glasgow’s electrified rail network. A further aspect of the station’s history was the line to the adjacent gasworks which ran over the station, sandwiched between the Switchback and Glasgow Central railways.
Having had its last makeover when the Argyle opened over 30 years ago, the station was in visibly poor condition and did not have the access required by the Disability Discrimination Act. With only 80,000 passengers a year, many being Parkhead- bound Celtic fans, the station had not been a priority for refurbishment. This changed in 2007 when the 2014 Commonwealth Games were awarded to Glasgow and so discussions commenced on how to transform Dalmarnock.
Project sponsor Gareth Woodruff has been involved with Dalmarnock station for almost five years. As Gareth explains, rebuilding the station has involved a number of stakeholders, all of whom had be satisfied that the rebuilt station would meet their needs and have an acceptable appearance as the station will be used by most of those travelling to the eastern cluster of sporting venues. Transport Scotland, the client for the project, has pulled together an £11.5 million funding package with contributions from Clyde Gateway development organisation, Strathclyde Passenger Transport; Glasgow City Council and the European Regional Development Fund.
The station is a key part of the transport strategy which is based around the concept of a ‘car free’ games. To support this, free public transport within Glasgow will be provided for every ticket-holding spectator on the day of their event. The strategy also has a planning objective of leaving “a positive legacy in terms of a continued modal shift towards sustainable modes of transport”.
Station designers Atkins therefore had to satisfy high expectations. These were met by specifying a sheer translucent skin for the station entrance hall to contrast with the original stone and brick – a design won ‘Best Proposed Project’ at the 2012 Scottish Design Awards.
Previously, the station entrance was on Swanston Street, which is no longer a main thoroughfare. The new Dalmarnock Road entrance is on the other side of the station and faces the sporting venues. The new entrance hall is constructed on the old Switchback railway, requiring the removal of part of the old embankment and its retaining wall. This expands the station footprint using old railway land which, as Gareth explains, is permitted development that does not require planning permission.
The new station is designed as an event station with public realm space to accommodate waiting crowds. Features include a new footbridge, platform upgrades, a new ticket office, lifts, improved lighting, CCTV and customer information systems. Passive provision is made for ticket barriers. The bridge that carried the old gasworks line over the station is retained as this is an integral part of the station’s structure. Although the bridge serves no purpose, the station design allows for its future use as a footbridge.
The main contract for the station rebuild was awarded in October 2011 to C Spencer, which had already been awarded a contract for advanced works consisting of site clearance and painting the station’s 15 over-track concrete- encased steel beams.
The main work at the station started in April 2012. Subcontractors are local companies and include Reglit, which provided the large glazed façade, A McKie Building & Engineering Services, MG Piling and Miller Fabrication. Two apprentices were taken on as part of Glasgow’s Youthbuild programme.
With its low passenger usage and the extent of the work, it was decided that the station should be closed for six months commencing June 2012. However, unexpected ground conditions were found including an aquifer, peat, old toilets and unknown structures that pre-dated the railway. This delayed the work and required a new piling solution using ODEX heavy screwed piles.
A station transformed
This extra work resulted in the station being closed for eleven months; it eventually re-opened on 20 May. However, Gareth stressed that this did not extend the project timescale. Work still to be completed includes lifting the new footbridge into position together with platform finishing work which is being done in a High Street environment or using rules of the route overnight possessions. The station will also remain closed on Sundays until its completion in December.
The thousands who will use Dalmarnock to visit the games will see an obviously- new station but are unlikely to appreciate how much the station has been completely transformed. However, the station’s few hundred daily users should be impressed by how their dingy, dilapidated station has been changed into a larger, modern, dramatic building. With this, and other improvements in the area, hopefully daily usage might soon be measured in thousands rather than hundreds.