Glasgow Queen Street Station is Scotland’s third busiest railway station. With passenger numbers set to increase by 40% to 28 million by 2030, a £120m redevelopment of the station, which includes an enlarged concourse and longer platforms, is the final part of the Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) that increases capacity and reduces journey times.
Arup's involvement in the project spanned over eight years, from supporting the complex planning process to attain the green light for the project, to our role as the lead design organisation. We provided a full range of design services that required extensive collaboration and a truly integrated design approach—critical to the successful delivery of the project. Our team delivered a construction methodology that allowed the station to remain operational throughout its transformation while providing significant time and budget savings.
A new, iconic gold façade, enhanced passenger information and wayfinding all serve to improve the passenger experience and create a landmark station for the city. The improvements allow Queen Street to accommodate longer, greener electric trains that will help shape Scotland’s sustainable transport future.
In 2021, the station won the Building Award at the Scottish Civil Engineering Awards and won at the Structural Steel Design Awards.
38% more capacity
94%of demolition material recycled
Enabling a once in a generation transformation
Before construction work could start, a Transport and Works (Scotland) Act (TAWS) was required. Our Expert Witness and Environmental Statement expertise enabled the TAWS application to be approved, allowing the platform extension and demolition works to create space for the new façade. Our justification for proposed land uses, combined with extensive stakeholder engagement, contributed to reducing the number of objections by 80% and resulted in the ultimate success of the application. Our team was integral to securing Glasgow City Council approval for an approach that was sympathetic to passengers, local businesses and the community.
One of our key contributions to the TAWS process was the development of a construction methodology that proved the redevelopment could be implemented while the station remained in operation, within very challenging site constraints in a busy city centre environment.
Successfully delivering a flagship rail project
Our construction methodology and programme, featuring smart use of site access and sequencing of works allowed the station to remain operational and manage stakeholder (retail) expectations. We determined efficiencies in the demolition approach that would accelerate the programme; the partial closure of West George Street and its associated impact meant that approval of this approach from business and stakeholders was vital during the preceding planning application process.
Our team’s rigorous approach to assurance allowed the two fundamental project elements of the station building and rail infrastructure work to proceed in parallel, with activities coordinated to ensure efficient, on-time delivery.
Enhancing the passenger experience
Our designers took a user-centric approach throughout the design process. We carried out sophisticated pedestrian flow modelling to assess various layouts within the station and optimise the passenger experience. As such, the new concourse, which wraps around the historic, Grade A listed, 1880s train shed and forms the centrepiece of the redevelopment, is shaped to respond to pedestrian movement. The dramatic roof structure above floods the station with daylight, which creates an open and accessible gateway to facilitate the passenger journey.
Throughout the project, engineers and architects worked closely to maintain the design intent for a dramatic column-free space, allowing passengers to move through the station quickly and safely. Not only is the new station design visually outstanding for passengers, but the concept creates new perspectives of the 1880s train shed, putting the fine Victorian structure at the heart of the design and adding to Glasgow’s rich architectural heritage.
The west side of the station is located over an existing railway line and historic bridge structure. This site was extremely constrained, which required our structural and geotechnical engineers to develop an efficient and constructible proposal. The solution was a 38m span, storey high, truss, which diverts any loading from the existing structure and was lifted into place overnight, allowing daily passenger travel to continue uninterrupted.
Improving project and cost efficiency
The use of BIM was central to the design process. We created a 3D model, acting as a single source of truth for all design coordination to quickly identify and resolve potential design conflicts. This approach has been maintained throughout the site phase of the works, with contractor designed elements and models reviewed in a digital environment to ensure compliance with the original design intent.
Our fire engineers developed an efficient fire strategy and corresponding design, collaborating with station staff and stakeholders to significantly reduce operational and maintenance costs. Our work also removed the need for smoke extract plant, while delivering a solution for the client that ensured public safety and minimised service disruption in case of an incident. We also provided guidance for the protocols to be deployed in the event of various fire scenarios.