18 July 2010

Transport Minister takes a walk Underground

A midnight walk through ageing tunnels below the city of Glasgow might not be how most politicians would choose to spend their evening.

However the Transport Minister did just that recently with a visit to Scotland’s only Subway network.

Stewart Stevenson pulled on his hard hat and safety boots to witness first hand the labour intensive work carried out each night into the early hours that keeps the Victorian system running.

The Minister described the experience as “revealing” and said he now fully appreciates the level of work being done behind the scenes to keep the Subway operating and transporting about 14 million passengers a year. The balance between maintenance and operation is one that needs to be managed very carefully

Speaking to SPT Express, Mr Stevenson said:

“It’s terrific to visit a piece of Victorian engineering, to see it still serving a purpose in the 21st Century but also of course to see the challenges there are in maintaining something that was designed and built in another age.

“The system in Glasgow of course is unique in terms of its gauge and technology, so I wasn’t greatly surprised by the amount of manual labour involved but seeing it and seeing the work that has to be done to deal with bolts that won’t come loose and have to be mechanically drilled out is very revealing as to the challenges there are in keeping the system running.”

He added:

“Maintenance is a huge challenge, different parts of the network have different types of water, there’s limestone coming out of the render, hydrogen sulphite coming from old coal seams – all sorts of different challenges that have to be responded to by the very engaged and intelligent team of engineers who are working through the night to make the system continue to work during the day for so many people.

“Obviously one of the things people have been looking at is whether we can extend the operating hours of the Subway. It’s clear that the balance between maintenance and operation is one that needs to be managed very carefully indeed and I will certainly take away something to think about in respect of achieving that balance, which SPT has to juggle all the time.”

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