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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 to Glasgow Central and Edinburgh diverge. 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 Piccadilly and Glasgow Central. All other services by TransPennine Express and services operated by CrossCountry, LNER and Virgin Trains West Coast pass the station, but do not stop.

Carstairs National Rail
Scottish Gaelic: Caisteal Tarrais[1]
North end (Glasgow end) of the station
Local authoritySouth 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
Station codeCRS
Managed byAbellio ScotRail
Owned byNetwork Rail
Number of platforms2
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2013/14Increase 33,398
– Interchange Decrease 617
2014/15Increase 43,388
– Interchange Increase 10,389
2015/16Increase 84,796
– Interchange Decrease 9,994
2016/17Increase 95,862
– Interchange Decrease 989
2017/18Decrease 84,166
– Interchange Increase 12,457
Passenger Transport Executive
15 February 1848Station opened
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Carstairs from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.



Just south of the station, there is an important triangular junction (Carstairs Junction) where the 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. 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 (ECML and Cross Country) usually pass Platform 1: they can be signalled from Platform 2, but this rarely happens. However, all southbound (Up) services must pass Platform 2 (on the Up Main), as there is no avoiding line on that side of the station. 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 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.


Down platform and old station building in June 1983

The route through the station was electrified in 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 the Edinburgh on a minimum radius curve to provide a connection into the Down Platform whilst avoiding the installation of a diamond crossing. The requirement for superelevation through the Up platform for 90 mph running required deep ballasting the side effect of which required the platform to be raised. The original station buildings were being retained therefore continuous railings were provided to prevent passengers inadvertently falling down from one level to the other.[2] 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 to remain 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 (prior to the commencement of the main East Coast Main Line (ECML) electric services).[3][page needed]



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 as with the Glasgow trains a nine-hour gap from 07:55-18:41.


The following service calls at Carstairs, On Monday to Saturdays: There is a roughly 2 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, these services run Monday to Saturdays. There is also a few extra trains which call at peak times to/from Glasgow Central Low Level operated by ScotRail which operate to Motherwell, Garscadden and Dalmuir (these services don't run on Saturdays), in addition, TransPennine Express also provide one train per day to Glasgow Central, this service runs to Monday to Saturdays. From December 2019, there will be a direct service to Liverpool Lime Street via Preston. As of 2019, 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. ^ Nock 1974.
  3. ^ Semmens, Peter (1991). Electrifying the East Coast Route. ISBN 0-85059-929-6.