The railway first opened in 1896 as a cable-hauled system powered by steam engines and the railway was hailed as the first of its type in the world. The Subway is generally recognised as the world’s third underground railway, after London and Budapest. In 1923. In the following decade the railway was converted to electric traction, introducing a third live rail for the purpose.
The railway ran with little further change until 1977 when the new operators, Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Executive, closed it for major modernisation investment.
The railway in its present form reopened for operation on 16 April 1980.
Now part of SPT, the railway is one of the few in the UK remaining in public ownership and ‘vertically integrated’, where SPT’s responsibility covers all aspects of operation and infrastructure.
The Subway forms a small circle in the centre-west of Glasgow. All of the passenger route is underground, contained in twin tunnels, allowing clockwise circulation on the outer circle and anticlockwise on the inner. Fifteen stations are distributed along the route length of just over 10km. Eight of the stations are north of the River Clyde which dissects the circular route.