Go-ahead for £290m Glasgow subway modernisation
A £290m plan to completely revamp Glasgow's ageing subway system has been given formal backing by ministers.
The Scottish government is to make a "substantial contribution" to the scheme, paving the way for driverless trains and upgraded stations.
It will also act as a guarantor when Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) tries to finance most of the plan by borrowing against existing assets.
The changes could mean a significant reduction in SPT's 650 workforce.
Under the proposals, which were approved in principle by SPT in April last year, the whole subway system would be overhauled.
All 15 stations on the six-mile long system would be redeveloped, disabled access improved and a smartcard ticketing system would be implemented.
Driverless trains would also be introduced along with an increased frequency of services.
The original report said the changes would require a cut in staffing levels.
SPT said this could be achieved without compulsory redundancies as retirements and natural wastage would reduce staffing levels as the new system came online.
BBC Scotland understands the current SPT workforce of 650 would be significantly reduced by the time the project nears completion.
The Scottish government's support for the scheme was confirmed by Finance Secretary John Swinney.
He said: "We recognise the central role the subway plays in the economic life of Glasgow and Scotland by helping people go about their business effectively, providing vital connections around the city and making onward connections.
"My officials have worked closely with SPT for some time and there is clear merit in the outline business case. It is important, at this early stage that SPT is given every possible reassurance.
"That is why we have reaffirmed our longer term commitment to helping realise the Glasgow subway modernisation and have put a marker down that our intention is to make a substantial capital contribution to the overall construction costs."
SPT chairman Jonathan Findlay said the government's backing was "fantastic news".
"We are delighted to have a firm commitment of support and we note the faith the Scottish government has in SPT delivering a modernised subway," he said.
"We look forward to receiving further details of the financial contribution on offer."