PLANS for a tunnel under Glasgow city centre to connect the railway network has been presented to join up the rail routes north and south of the city.

The Connectivity Commission has proposed the idea which it says is the solution to plugging the gap between Central and Queen Street stations.

The commission has identified the gap as one of the most important barriers to connectivity in the city and the west of Scotland.

Unless you are relying on a congested road network it is difficult to access the south and south west of the city and beyond from the north and east and vice versa.

The proposal is for a tunnel with a station underground between Queen Street and Central with escalators at both ends of the new station taking passengers up to the high level stations above.

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The tunnel would start on the south side at Shields Road junction on the Ayrshire and Inverclyde lines into Glasgow and travel under the city centre, parallel to the current Queen Street tunnel, and emerging to the surface joining the main network at Cowlairs Junction in the north.

The Commission has looked to Europe for examples where tunnelling has been used as a solution to transport problems.

It cites Munich and Leipzig in Germany, Turin in northern Italy, Oslo in Norway and Swedish capital Stockholm and Zurich in Switzerland as cities which have built city centre tunnels in recent years.

Queen Street Station is currently undergoing a rebuilding programme, lengthening platforms to take new longer electric trains to improve capacity on trains and Central Station requires work to increase capacity to cope with growing demand.

However, the work at both stations does not solve the problem of trains being unable to cross the city without the need for passengers to change.

The commission says Crossrail has not been taken forward before because it doesn’t solve the problem and would create new issues.

It said it would have a detrimental impact on the Queen Street low level network and would not serve Central at all and a new station at High street would be taking passengers further away from where they want to be in the city centre.

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Digging a tunnel under the city centre would obviously come at a considerable cost, as would many of the other projects the commission has proposed.

However the benefits will, according to the man who led the commission, make the investment worthwhile.

Professor David Begg, chair of the Connectivity Commission, said: “We considered how to pay for one of the biggest infrastructure interventions Glasgow has seen in the last half-century.

“It would be easy to baulk at their scale. But we were persuaded by evidence that this could deliver a step-change in the performance of Scotland’s economic powerhouse, delivering a more prosperous, sustainable and inclusive city region at the heart of a thriving national economy.

“We need to raise Glasgow’s levels of ambition if such a transformation is to be achieved.”

Plans to use existing but long unused tunnels under the city, including out to the old Botanic Gardens station in the west end and Maryhill, are also included in the proposals for enhancing the city’s railway network.

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