Glasgow Queen Street Station is Scotland’s third busiest railway station. With passenger numbers set to increase 40% by 2030, a £120m station redevelopment, with 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 spanned over eight years, from supporting the complex planning process to get the project’s green light, to our role as the lead design organisation. We provided a full range of design services that required extensive collaboration and an integrated design approach, critical to the project’s success. 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 gold façade, with enhanced user information and wayfinding, improve the passenger experience and create a landmark station for Glasgow. The improvements allow Queen Street to accommodate longer, greener electric trains to 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.

A once in a generation transformation 

Before construction could begin, a Transport and Works (Scotland) Act (TAWS) was required. Our Expert Witness and Environmental Statement expertise enabled the TAWS application approval, allowing the platform extension and demolition works to create space for the new façade. Our justification for proposed land use, combined with extensive stakeholder engagement contributed to reducing the objections number by 80%, resulting in a successful 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 TAWS process contributions was the construction methodology development, proving the works could be implemented while the station remained open and within very challenging city environment site constraints.

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 open and manage stakeholder (retail) expectations. We determined efficiencies in the demolition approach that would accelerate the programme. This included the partial closure of West George Street and its associated impact resulting in the approval of this approach from business and stakeholders being 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 delivery. 

Enhancing the passenger experience

Our designers took a user-centric approach during the design process. We carried out sophisticated pedestrian flow modelling to assess various station layouts and optimise the passenger experience. As such, the new concourse, which wraps around the Grade A listed 1880s train shed centrepiece is shaped to respond to pedestrian movement. The dramatic roof structure floods the station with daylight, creating an open and accessible gateway to facilitate the passenger journey. 
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, but the concept creates new perspectives of the 1880s train shed, putting the fine Victorian structure at the heart of Glasgow’s rich architectural heritage.

Structural excellence

The west side of the station is located over an existing railway line and historic bridge structure. This site was extremely constrained and required Arup’s structural and geotechnical engineers to develop an efficient and constructible proposal. The solution was a 38m span, storey high truss that diverts any loading from the existing structure and was lifted into place overnight, allowing daily passenger travel to be uninterrupted.

Improving project and cost efficiency

The use of BIM was central to the design process. We created a 3D model to act as a single source of truth for all design coordination and to quickly identify potential design conflicts. This approach has been maintained throughout the site phase, 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 removed the need for smoke extract plant, while delivering solutions for the client that ensured public safety and minimised service disruption in case of incidents. We also provided guidance for the protocols to be deployed in the event of various fire scenarios.