Carstairs railway station

Carstairs railway station serves the village of Carstairs in South Lanarkshire, Scotland and is a major junction station on the West Coast Main Line (WCML), situated close to the point at which the lines from London Euston and Edinburgh to Glasgow Central merge. Constructed originally by the Caledonian Railway, the station is operated today by Abellio ScotRail and is also served by one TransPennine Express trains service per day between Manchester Airport and Glasgow Central. All other services by TransPennine Express and services operated by Avanti West Coast, Caledonian Sleeper, CrossCountry and London North Eastern Railway pass the station, but do not stop.


Scottish Gaelic: Caisteal Tarrais[1]
National Rail
North end (Glasgow end) of the station
LocationCarstairs, South Lanarkshire
Coordinates55°41′29″N 3°40′09″W / 55.6913°N 3.6692°W / 55.6913; -3.6692Coordinates: 55°41′29″N 3°40′09″W / 55.6913°N 3.6692°W / 55.6913; -3.6692
Grid referenceNS952454
Owned byNetwork Rail
Managed byAbellio ScotRail
Transit authoritySPT
Other information
Station codeCRS
Original companyCaledonian Railway
Pre-groupingCaledonian Railway
Post-groupingLondon, Midland and Scottish Railway
Key dates
15 February 1848Station opened
2016/17Increase 95,862
 Interchange Decrease 989
2017/18Decrease 84,166
 Interchange Increase 12,457
2018/19Decrease 62,376
 Interchange Increase 14,255
2019/20Decrease 60,948
 Interchange Decrease 6,107
2020/21Decrease 4,138
 Interchange Decrease 873
Passenger statistics from the Office of Rail and Road


Construction work started on the site on 30 August 1845[2] and the station was opened by the Caledonian Railway on 15 February 1848[3] when the line between Glasgow and Beattock opened. The line from Edinburgh reached Carstairs and opened on 1 April 1848. By 1855 traffic had increased substantially, and the Caledonian Railway spent around £15,000 (equivalent to £1,410,000 in 2019)[4] at Carstairs increasing capacity to allow incoming trains from Glasgow, Edinburgh and the north to be arranged for their journey south.[5]

In 1885 a correspondant known as Trans-Clyde to the Glasgow Herald reported on the poor state of the platforms at Carstairs:

In the interest of the travelling public whose number is legion, allow me to bring to notice the most urgent and pressing necessity which exists for the directors of the Caledonian Railway taking immediate measures to put the platform at Carstairs Junction into such a condition as shall answer efficiently all the purposes of a railway platform intended for the use of travellers…If your or any of your readers have been to Carstairs Railway Station, on the opening of the doors of the railway carriage they must have seen that the stone platform on which they are required to alight for the purpose of changing carriages (the main or almost sole object of this station) is several feet below the level of the carriage which they occupy-how many feet in each case I cannot say, as it may vary but lately I took occasion to measure the distance between the platform and the floor of a carriage from which I had managed to descend, and found it to be 3 feet 4 inches at least.[6]

From 1888 to 1895 the station was also the terminus of the Carstairs House Tramway which connected to Carstairs House.

Down platform and old station building in June 1983

Between 1914 and 1916 the Caledonian Railway began an extensive reconstruction of the station.[7] The existing island platform buildings were remodelled with new windows and doors and the exterior was given a dressed stonework finish. The accommodation comprised ladies’ and gentlemen’s waiting rooms, a telegraph office, a tea room and offices for the station staff. The buildings extended to 300 feet (91 m), with steel and glass platform canopies which extended beyond the length of the platform building. The platforms were raised in height and extended in length to around 1,000 feet (300 m). The constricted layout of only one set of up and down through lines was expanded with the provision of loop lines for both up and down trains to allow non-stop trains to bypass any trains stopped at the station. The improvements were prepared under the direction of W.A. Paterson, the engineer-in-chief of the company. The contract for the reconstruction was won by John Shirlaw of Carluke.[8] The reconstruction cost £22,391[9] (equivalent to £1,530,000 in 2019).[4]

The London, Midland and Scottish Railway constructed an experimental locomotive. LMS 6399 Fury. On an test run from Glasgow to Carstairs scheduled for 10 February 1930 it was approaching Carstairs station at slow speed, when one of the ultra-high-pressure tubes burst and the escaping steam ejected the coal fire through the fire-hole door, killing Lewis Schofield of the Superheater Company.[10]


The route through the station was electrified in the 1974 electrification scheme that covered the West Coast Main Line between Weaver Junction and Glasgow Central. As part of this the station was re-signalled. The critical point was the connection from Edinburgh on a minimum radius curve to provide a connection into the Down platform whilst avoiding the installation of a diamond crossing. The provision of superelevation through the Up platform for 90 mph running required deep ballasting; this required the platform to be raised. The original station buildings were being retained, and continuous railings were provided to prevent passengers accidentally falling down from one level to the other.[11] This height difference has now been removed as the original station buildings were demolished and replaced with a more modern alternative and the entire platform was levelled off. The only remnant of the original station buildings was the integral footbridge, now adapted as a stand-alone structure.

The route to Edinburgh was not part of the 1970s scheme; however, it was included as part of the late 1980s ECML scheme, with electric services starting to use the line in 1989 (before the main East Coast Main Line (ECML) electric services started).[12][page needed]


  • William Irvine c. 1851 ca. 1852
  • John Samuel 1865 - 1871[13] (afterwards station master at Stirling)
  • William Dickson 1875 - 1883
  • Robert Murray 1884 - 1900[14] (formerly station master at Coatbridge)
  • Thomas Allison 1900[15] - 1902 (afterwards station master at Glasgow Central)
  • Montague Blackett Yule 1902[16] - 1914
  • George Airth 1914 - 1928
  • Andrew S. Twaddell 1928 - 1937[17]
  • Thomas Coyle 1937 - 1947[18]
  • John Johnstone 1950 - 1953[19] (formerly station master at Gorgie, afterwards station master at Galashiels)


Just south of the station, there is an important triangular junction (Carstairs Junction) where the West Coast Main Line (WCML) divides. The north-westerly route goes via Motherwell to Glasgow and the north-easterly route goes towards Edinburgh, where the East Coast Main Line begins. The southbound route goes towards Carlisle and London Euston. The line between Edinburgh and Glasgow is the only part of the West Coast Main Line used by London North Eastern Railway services. Carstairs is also a marshalling point and the final boarding point (both sleeping car and overnight coach) in Scotland for the Lowland Caledonian Sleeper trains from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London Euston.

Northbound (Down) WCML services usually pass the station on an avoiding line (known as the Down Main), away from the platform line (known as the Down platform), but northbound services coming off the chord from Edinburgh (LNER and CrossCountry) usually pass Platform 1: they cannot be signalled from Platform 2, . However, all southbound (Up) services pass through Platform 2 (on the Up Main), they can also be diverted through the down platform(1). The Up Main and Down Platform lines are both signalled for bi-directional working, and are often used as passing loops for passenger and freight services. For example, the early morning departure for Glasgow Central from North Berwick will wait at the Down Platform as a fast TransPennine Express service from Manchester passes.

There is also the Down Passenger Loop (which is adjacent to the station) and the Up Passenger Loop (immediately to the north of the station) which are both used to stop freight services while faster passenger services pass. It is also common for northbound freights to be stopped in both the Down Platform line and Down Passenger Loop and for fast passenger services to be passed between them on the Down Main.



Carstairs was an important junction station where northbound West Coast Main Line trains were split into separate portions for Glasgow, Edinburgh and (to a lesser extent) Stirling and Perth, and for the corresponding combining of southbound trains. However, the introduction of push-pull operation on the WCML and the availability of surplus HST sets for Cross Country traffic (as a result of the ECML electrification) largely eliminated this practice in the early 1990s. Apart from the sleeping car trains, express traffic through Carstairs now consists of fixed-formation trains which do not require to be remarshalled en route. As a result, few express trains now call at Carstairs. There were some local stopping services to Edinburgh and Glasgow, but they were relatively infrequent. Before December 2012, only two trains per day to North Berwick called, and only five trains to Glasgow (three trains went to Dalmuir and two to Central and one terminated at Motherwell). There were very large gaps in between trains with the two Edinburgh-bound trains calling at 07:49 and then again at 15:40; similarly, for the Glasgow trains there was a gap from 07:55 to 18:41.


Prior to March 2020 on Monday to Saturdays, there was a roughly two-hourly service to both Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley (with a few longer gaps) for most of the day, with a few services extended to Ayr and North Berwick; the last northbound service from Edinburgh terminates at Motherwell. There were also a few extra trains operated by ScotRail to/from Glasgow Central Low Level which call at peak times. These operate to Motherwell, Garscadden and Dalmuir. These services do not run on Saturdays, so a slightly reduced service operates from the station on Saturday mornings, In addition, TransPennine Express also provide one train per day to Glasgow Central and one train per day to Liverpool Lime Street via Preston.


As a result of the Covid 19 Pandemic, Carstairs has had it services severely reduced and there are large gaps in between trains during the day, the following services call at the station.

On Monday to Fridays, there are 8 trains per day from the station with 5 trains per day to Glasgow Central departing at 0549 0739 0744 0810 and 1821, and 2 trains per day to Edinburgh Waverley departing at 0749 and 2032. The last northbound service at 2359 terminates at Motherwell. All trains are operated by Abellio ScotRail with the exception of the 0744 to Glasgow which is operated by TransPennine Express.

On Saturdays, the service is the same except that the 0739 to Glasgow doesn't operate.

There is no Sunday service.

Preceding station   National Rail Following station
Kirknewton   Abellio ScotRail
North Berwick Line
Terminus   Abellio ScotRail
Argyle Line
Carlisle   Caledonian Sleeper
Lowland Caledonian Sleeper
    Edinburgh Waverley
Lockerbie   TransPennine Express
TransPennine North West
  Historical railways  
Line open; Station closed
  Caledonian Railway Main Line
to Greenhill Junction
Line open; Station closed
  Caledonian Railway Main Line
from Edinburgh
Line open; Station closed
Terminus   Dolphinton Branch
Caledonian Railway
Line and Station closed



  1. ^ Brailsford 2017, Gaelic/English Station Index.
  2. ^ "The formation of the Caledonian Railway Company". Carluke and Lanark Gazette. Scotland. 3 May 1913. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  3. ^ "Opening of the Caledonian Railway". Caledonian Mercury. Scotland. 17 February 1848. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  4. ^ a b UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Caledonian Railway". Liverpool Mail. England. 29 September 1955. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  6. ^ "Station Platform, Carstairs Junction". Glasgow Herald. Scotland. 10 August 1885. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  7. ^ "Reconstruction of Carstairs Station". The Scotsman. Scotland. 4 February 1914. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  8. ^ "Carstairs Station". Carluke and Lanark Gazette. Scotland. 14 March 1914. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  9. ^ "Railway Meetings in Glasgow. Caledonian Company". The Scotsman. Scotland. 23 February 1916. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  10. ^ "Mishap on Giant new L.M.S. Engine". Derby Daily Telegraph. England. 10 February 1930. Retrieved 5 November 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  11. ^ Nock 1974.
  12. ^ Semmens, Peter (1991). Electrifying the East Coast Route. ISBN 0-85059-929-6.
  13. ^ "Death or Stirling Stationmaster". Dundee Evening Telegraph. Scotland. 19 October 1899. Retrieved 28 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  14. ^ "Death of Carstairs Junction Superintendent". North British Daily Mail. Scotland. 25 June 1900. Retrieved 28 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  15. ^ "Railway Notes". Aberdeen People’s Journal. Scotland. 25 August 1900. Retrieved 28 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  16. ^ "Carstairs. Appointment of Stationmaster". Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News. Scotland. 12 December 1902. Retrieved 28 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  17. ^ "Stationmaster Retires". Carluke and Lanark Gazette. Scotland. 16 April 1937. Retrieved 28 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  18. ^ "Carnwath. A Stationmaster's Retiral". Midlothian Advertiser. Scotland. 16 May 1947. Retrieved 28 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  19. ^ "Railway Appointment". Jedburgh Gazette. Scotland. 26 June 1953. Retrieved 28 October 2021 – via British Newspaper Archive.