Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Scottish - Cumbernauld review 1

Falkirk Grahamston railway station

14/5/12 Falkirk Grahamston to Glasgow Queen Street
Dept Falkirk Grahamston: 18.45
Arrive Galsgow Queen Street: 19.25
Weather: cloudy/sunny
Traction used: Class 170 3-car Turbostar DMU
Frequency of service: hourly

The train I get runs as an hourly shuttle between Glasgow Queen Street and Falkirk Grahamston, waiting for approximately half an hour in a siding east of Falkirk Grahamston station. It is a three car Class 170 Turbostar and quite empty with plenty of table space. Around ten people get on at Falkirk. The station was completely rebuilt in 1986 and still looks quite futuristic, with a large dome like station building on the Edinburgh bound platform. There is a large brick waiting room on the Glasgow/Stirling platform. There is a large car park to the north side of the station and as we leave we go onto an embankment, past tenements on the left and over a canal.
It is for less than a mile before we arrive at Camelon station, which is still in Falkirk. It is situated right next to a leisure centre and is another newish looking station with two glass framed shelters on each platform.
We pass Carmuirs East signal box and then turn to the left, whilst the line to Stirling goes off to the right. We travel along one side of a triangle, joining up with the Highland mainline on our right and then start going south. There is still housing on the left as we go into a cutting, before emerging into open countryside. There are calves in the field on the left whilst on the right you can see the hills in the distance.
We then go onto an embankment and then the main line to Glasgow leaves us on the left to join up with the line from Falkirk High shortly afterwards. We cross underneath it after a couple of miles and then start to go in a south westerly direction. It becomes more hilly now with the mountains on the right much closer and the M80 on our right.
It becomes more wooded now and we speed up to about 60 mph. We pass a lovely waterfall on the left which seems to be in the middle of nowhere. We enter another cutting and then the trees disappear as we slow down and pass through a short tunnel before stopping at Cumbernauld. An EWS oil tanker train passes us on the other track, bound for Grangemouth oil refinery. The station looks fairly new and is painted in maroon livery with a glass shelter on the left platform and a larger station building with ticket office on the right.
It is quite industrial on both sides as we leave and then we only go about half a mile, before we come to Greenfaulds. It is painted in the SPT livery and has two maroon famed glass shelters on either platform. There is new housing to the north of the station and woodland to the south, plus a large car park. This is a park and ride facility for Cumbernauld.
We are back in the countryside now with the mountains still in the distance on the right. A second oil tanker train passes us and then we slow for Garnqueen North junction, where the line to Motherwell goes off to the left. We go off on the right side of a triangle, before the line from Coatbridge joins us at Gartcosh Junction. We then come to a halt at Gartcosh. Just before the station on the left is a large, unusual looking office block building. Again the station looks new and just two people get on. It has two triangular shaped maroon shelters on each platform
As we leave we go over the M73 and pass lots of new housing on either side. Then there is scrubland as we go back out into the countryside again. We reach 50 mph, as we enter a cutting and then slow as we pass through more woodland, before coming into Stepps. It's another newish looking station, this time with curved, maroon framed aluminum shelters. The one on the left platform has a ticket machine in it. Two people get off, but no on gets on. There is newish looking housing on both sides, but it doesn't last long before we are back out into the countryside. This time it is wooded. The M80 runs parallel to us on the right and then we cross over it. The outer suburbs of Glasgow start to appear, with several high rise blocks of flats on the right side.
We start to go downhill gradually. An old rusty line goes off on the left to a set of gates and then we go over the Barnhill line and see Barnhill station on the right just below us. We then join up with that line the other side of the station. By now we are surrounded by housing and industrial units. We soon arrive at Springburn station, which has four platforms, two of them bays. There is a large island platform in the middle with a large grey coloured aluminum shelter on it, plus one on the left side platform. One person gets off, but no one gets on. The line curves to the left on a single track, whilst the Queen Street avoiding line goes off to the right to Westerton.
We then join the mainline from Stirling/Edinburgh again and enter a deep brick lined cutting. Then we enter a tunnel, before emerging into Glasgow Queen Street station. It has seven platforms, all with diesel multiple units, as no loco hauled trains go to Fort William and Oban from here any more.
Summary: Not a very well patronised line, but still serving several medium sized towns east of Glasgow. MC