Railway Lines in the Armadale Area

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Updated 26 July 2011


Making Tracks: Railways in West Lothian

On 21 July 2011, Jim Walker, Executive Councillor for Culture and Leisure, cut the celebration cake at Armadale Library to mark the official opening of the exhibition Making Tracks: Railways in West Lothian.  The exhibition was created to celebrate the re-opening of the Bathgate-Airdrie railway line over fifty years since it closed to passenger traffic. The exhibition will have its first showing is Armadale and Blackridge, the sites of the two new stations on the line.

The display takes a general look at the days before railways came to West Lothian, the first lines through Linlithgow and Bathgate and the many train routes to collieries and other major industrial sites.  The memories of two local men, Ian Bruce and Walter Notman, with different experiences of the local railways in the 1940s and 1950s are also included.  The research of Stephen Dix (above second from left), the contributions from many members of the public, and the objects lent by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society at Bo'ness have helped to create a most interesting exhibition.  The late Rosie Wells is also pictured above.


Armadale Railway Station opened later than planned, on 4th March 2011

Photos taken 22 March 2011

Rail construction in south Armadale, looking ~south from here.   KAP 31 May 2010

Railway development, Station Road, Armadale, January 2010 KAP


Preparations for the new railway line under Station Road, south Armadale (PAP), May 2009


Railscot Photos of the Bathgate area

Railscot Homepage


Robertson, Love & Co. Ltd. Printable version (1.82MB)

Description of the Introduction of Railways to Armadale: Past and Present Chap VII

The Airdrie South - Ratho (Newbridge Junction): a 25 mile line run by North British, which included local stations that were closed in January 1956: Westcraigs, Armadale and Bathgate Upper

  • November 1849: The Edinburgh and Bathgate railway opened the Ratho - Bathgate section. The first class fair for the 18 mile Bathgate to Edinburgh route was three shillings, two pence.
  • 11 November 1855: Monkland Railway Company reached an agreement with the trustees of James McHardy of Bathville to lay a track through his estate.  Initially, it provided only a goods service, but, eventually, when passengers were able to travel between Glasgow - Airdrie and Edinburgh - Bathgate, arrangements were made to convey Armadale's passengers between these places.
  • 1858# See the comment below photos: A passenger station was built at Cappers to serve Armadale's passengers, 'an unpretending little building, with a waiting-room on the left side of the door capable of accommodating about a dozen passengers, and the booking-office on the other side, with little room for the stationmaster, who was also booking-clerk, to move about in, was erected on the south side of the single line of rails, a few yards west of the bridge..' Past and Present Chap VII
  • 28 July 1863: Bathgate and Coatbridge Railway aka New Monkland Line (built by Monkland Railways) opened.
  • 31 July 1865: the line was absorbed into the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway.

  • 1 August 1865: the Railway became part of North British Railway.

  • By 1871: through services between Edinburgh and glasgow were running.

  • 1936: Mr McGillivray was the stationmaster before he moved on to Linlithgow.

  • 1952: Airdrie South was renamed Airdrie.

  • 7/8 January 1956: the last passenger service between Edinburgh and Glasgow on the Bathgate and Coatbridge Railway stopped at Armadale Railway Station.  Airdrie became the eastern terminus of  the local services, which ran from Glasgow Queen Street Low level.  The Stationmaster at that time was Mr Gilroy. Freight services continued to use the line.

  • 1960: the Glasgow north electrified surburban services, introducing a fast service to Glasgow, Balloch and Helensburgh.

  • February 1982: Freight services ceased running on the line, and the line was then lifted.

  • March 1986: the Bathgate - Ratho passenger service was reinstated, thereby re-introducing the Bathgate - Edinburgh line.


The old station, Armadale


Above: Armadale Station signal box with a white structure which is a copy of the tower at the Empire Exhibition.  Station Master: George McGillivray; signal man Jock McCallum? who lived in South Street; Stewart and Bill McGillivray, brothers of Jean Hardie whom we thank for the two photos.

Below: The photo is a floral representation of one of the Clyde steamers.  The photo was taken when the LNER had prizes for best kept stations.


Looking towards Armadale Station,
with Goods Yard to the right of the Signal Box
Late 1950s
View from Office (in old Waiting Room on north side)
Late 1950s

Our thanks go to Alex Hogg for the two photos featured above. 

He told us, "When I worked there the Station master had to move out of the house which was upstairs due to dry rot and we got involved in helping to bring the ceiling and the walls down (not ideal for office working).  The Station master when I left was a Mr. Prosser, and as the station house was deemed to be uninhabitable we (the staff) helped move him to a house down at Bathville Cross that the Railway bought for his use. The goods yard behind the signal box was at that time used mainly for local coal merchants but included Banana vans for Marshall the fruiterer and I think it was Russell's. On occasions we were entertained by rather big banana spiders which had stowed away with the fruit. I remember the men catching two and put them together but there was a fight to the death. At that time the line was still in use with coal trains to/from Westcraigs and to Ravenscraig, why I didn't turn the camera on to them I simply don't know. There was also a signal cabin down the line to Bathgate I think it was called Bogside which came under the Armadale Station master."

Interestingly, Charles Colquhoun remembered a big black spider and, when I asked Jean McGillivray, whose father was Armadale's Stationmaster until they moved to Linlithgow, she told me, "Yes, I remember the big black spider in the hand of bananas being unloaded and the porter asking for a jar to put it in and I took it to school. Don't know if it was poisonous or not!"

Ann Glen of Airdrie told us, "As a railway enthusiast and historian, the photos of Armadale station are of considerable interest - including the garden with PS Jeanie Deans sailing amid the flowers. After privatisation and staff retirements, Airdrie station's award winning garden lapsed."

We are also grateful for her following correction as we are always keen to make information as accurate as possible:

# "It was interesting to see that you mention 1858 as the date of the first station at Cappers. ...... The Act for the Bathgate & Coatbridge Railway was only obtained in 1859. Mineral traffic commenced on 27 April 1861 when a train crossed the new line for the first time but passenger traffic was delayed until 11 August 1862. By then, basic stations and platforms would have been available along the line. "


The old station, Armadale, April 1961 (Loco 69163) www.transporttreasury.co.uk

My thanks to Vic Smith of York who has pointed out that the train shown was a railtour, organised by the Branch Line Society, which actually ran on 6th May 1961

Railway Archives for the Armadale Area at the National Archives of Scotland

NAS cat ref: RHP95305 and 42312: Bound plans and sections of proposed branch of Monkland Railways (subsidiary branches include Armadale Toll and Boghead), 1852
NAS ref no:  RHP127091: Plan of railway at Woodend Junction (NBR) 1894
NAS ref no:  RHP15828: Plan of Armadale branch of NBR, 1897
NAS ref no:  RHP29713: Plan of Armadale Station (NBR) 1900
NAS ref no:  RHP36844: Plan of Armadale Junction re proposed doubling of line between Woodend - Polkemmet Junction (NBR) 1900
NAS ref no:  RHP43519: Plans and sections of widening of NBR Airdrie-Bathgate line (includes ref to Woodend Junction, Armadale Station) 1900
NAS ref no:  RHP130399-130400: Detailed drawings of bridge over stream at Westcraigs (NBR) annotated re builder's offer, 1902
NAS ref no:  RHP130418-130419: Detailed drawing re bridge over public road between Armadale - Woodend Junction (NBR) annotated re builder's offer, 1902
NAS ref no:  RHP127093: Plan of alteration to sidings at Woodend Junction (NBR) 1902
NAS ref no:  RHP37164: Plan of fence and siding for Armadale Iron Co's foundry, Armadale Branch (NBR) 1902
NAS ref no:  RHP27131: Plan and section of level crossing at Netherhouses (NBR) 1905
NAS ref no:  RHP27130: Plan and section of proposed alteration to level crossing at Netherhouses (NBR) 1908
NAS ref no:  RHP28125: Plan of level crossing at Netherhouses (NBR) 1908
NAS ref no:  RHP37169: Plan of Armadale Branch (NBR) 1909
NAS ref no:  RHP36996: Plan of proposed bridge at Netherhouses Level Crossing (NBR) 1909
NAS ref no:  RHP127092: Plan of sidings at Woodend Junction (NBR) 1911
NAS ref no:  RHP37160: Plan of proposed additional siding for Atlas Steel Works on Armadale Branch (NBR) 1919
NAS ref no:  RHP37160: Plan showing proposed shunting arrangements at the Atlas Steel Foundry and Engineering Co on Armadale Branch (NBR) 1912
NAS ref no:  RHP127094: Plan of connections to: Westrigg, Southrigg, Blackrigg Collieries at Woodend Junction (NBR), 1921
NAS ref no:  RHP127095: Plan of railway at Woodend Junction (London and Eastern Railways), 1934
NAS ref no:  RHP38758: Track diagram of Armadale Branch c1940
NAS ref no:  RHP38554 and 38555: Plan of proposed alterations, Hardhill Road level crossing, Armadale (BR) 1953
NAS ref no:  RHP38945: Plan of permanent way renewal programme at Armadale Station (BR) 1960
NAS ref no:  RHP36343: Tracing plan of renewal of permanent way at Armadale Junction (BR) 1966

  Symbols of Armadale's former railway station on the old cycle path.

Our thanks to David Shirres, Development Manager of the Airdrie- Bathgate Project, for supplying the three photographs ( Network Rail) showing recent work on the Bathgate branch.
  • Above left: A rail crane lifting in position the bridge portal for the new footbridge at Camps Rigg Livingston
  • Above right: The demolition of a bridge by Morrison Way in Livingston to provide clearance for a two track railway.
  • Left: The cutting east of Livingston North station that now has steeper slopes supported by soil nails to provide space for a second track.

The Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link

Amendments courtesy of Graeme Elliott

Developments of 2006 - 2010 Airdrie-Bathgate Railway Plans

National Helpline for enquiries (open 24 hours a day, every day of the year): 08457 114141

The Airdrie-Bathgate Railway and Linked Improvements Bill was lodged with Scottish Parliament on 30th May, 2006.

During September, as part of the private bill's Preliminary Stage, a committee of five MSPs took evidence from interested parties such as representatives of West Lothian Council and local community councils.

The 300 million project, funded by Transport Scotland and delivered by Network Rail, aims to provide another rail route between Edinburgh and Glasgow by 2010.  It is planned that there will be four passenger trains every hour in both directions through West Lothian.  As a result, people living in the west of West Lothian will have direct rail access to Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Locally, apart from plans for upgrading Livingston North and Uphall Stations, Bathgate station will be relocated and a new station will be created at Armadale.  Figures cited by Network Rail suggest that Armadale could have over 1,000 boardings a day* making it a fairly large station, possibly bigger than the one at Bathgate.  Supporters of an additional halt at Blackridge are also optimistic that they have a strong case for their bid.  (*It is interesting to note that when the Bathgate - Edinburgh railway line was re-opened, initial estimates were for 278,000 passengers in the first year of operation, and 335,000 by 1989-90.  The actual figures turned out to be 335,000 and 932,000.  At first, the last train from Edinburgh Waverley was the 19.03.)

Participants in the consultation process so far have commented that their presentations were received sympathetically.  It was believed that the strong economic and social arguments for the new line to serve communities in West Lothian and North Lanarkshire had been clearly stated and had been well understood by the committee.

14 November 2006:  The Parliamentary Committee, responsible for scrutinising proposals, published its Preliminary Stage Report, which endorsed the general principles of the Airdrie-Bathgate Railway and Linked Improvements Bill and recommended that it should go forward as a Private Bill.

23 November 2006: The Bill proposing the construction of a new 300 million railway line between Airdrie and Bathgate was given unanimous support by members of the Scottish Parliament. 

Transport Scotland has committed funding for the project to a maximum of 299.7 million pounds.  Its declared aim: 'To provide a safe, reliable and efficient railway fit for the 21st century'.

The Bill moved to Consideration Stage where all aspects of the project's plans were scrutinised.

24 January 2007:  Oral evidence at the Consideration Stage began.

Wednesday 28 March 2007:  Unanimous approval of Airdrie-Bathgate Railway and Linked Improvements Bill was given by Parliament.  

9 May 2007:  The Bill received Royal Assent.  Phase One of the project (Advance Works: the double-tracking of the Bathgate-Edinburgh line and station upgrading) began with a completion target of 2008.

June 2007: Ron McAulay, Director, Scotland, Network Rail, and Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, took part in the ceremonial sod-cutting at Livingston North station to signal the beginning of work on the project.

Autumn 2007 to 2008: The first phase is the upgrade of the Edinburgh - Bathgate to become a double-tracked railway.  Preparations for this involve widening of the track bed; renewal / replacement of bridges; upgrading of Livingston and Uphall Stations.  Once completed in 2008, this part of the line will be able to provided better, more reliable services between Bathgate and the capital.

Spring 2009: Construction of Armadale station is planned to begin.

Winter 2010: Anticipated completion of works, which will mean that services will be running the full length of the railway line by December 2010.  (Once completed, the entire length of the rail line Edinburgh Waverley to Glasgow Queen Street will be double tracked and electrified.)

Advantages of the new services have been cited as:

  • four trains per hour each direction Glasgow - Edinburgh (target speed: 80mph), with an anticipated 12,000 journeys daily on the new route;

  • shorter journey times;

  • improved reliability;

  • better, safer passenger facilities;

  • improved access to work, business, education and social opportunities;

  • a reduction in road congestion and environmental effects, by providing travellers with a greener transport alternative, eg to M8 car journeys;

  • an opportunity to integrate travel options by providing accessible facilities for pedestrians, cyclists, buses and car travellers (eg via better parking, cycle tracks and park-and-ride)

  • a beneficial connection, particularly socially, between Central Belt communities while also bringing investment opportunities and economic growth.

What will the new Project involve?

  • The railway line link between Bathgate and Drumgelloch will be re-opened.

  • The current railway lines Bathgate - Edinburgh and Airdrie - Drumgelloch will be upgraded.

  • Stations at Drumgelloch and Bathgate will be relocated while new stations will be created at Armadale and Caldercruix.  The hoped-for station at Blackridge still remains a proposal to be investigated.

  • Stations at Airdrie, Livingston North and Uphall will be upgraded.

  • The cycle track between Bathgate and Airdrie will be relocated.

  • There will be improved park-and-ride facilities, more parking places will be created and facilities suitable for access by disabled passengers.