The new fleet is about to be ordered as part of the service’s biggest upgrade for 35 years. Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) is in the final stages of its five-year quest for a new fleet as part of the £300 million overhaul.
Two shortlisted groups are competing for a contract worth about £200m to build the trains and automated signalling, with a decision due in the next few months. The trains, which will have wi-fi, are expected to run by 2020 – the year before the Subway’s 125th birthday.
However, they will have to provide a unique version for Glasgow, because the six-mile circular system’s gauge – the distance between the rails – is 20cm narrower than standard. It was set by rail firms who built the world’s third oldest subway (after London and Budapest) to stop rivals running their trains on it.
Italian firm Ansaldo, which built driverless trains for the Copenhagen metro, is understood to have teamed up with Swiss company Stadler Rail for the Subway work. UK engineering giant Babcock has confirmed its involvement.
Its rivals are believed to be Spain’s CAF, which built Edinburgh’s trams, and France’s Thales, which helped construct the driverless SkyTrain network in Vancouver.
To increase safety, screens will be built along platforms, as they are on some London Underground lines. These open only when a train has stopped.
The Subway’s 15 stations, which handle 13 million passengers a year, are already in the process of being overhauled.