Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Memories – The Blue Train

Approaching Dumbarton Central

Nicknamed the Glasgow Blue Train, the Class 303 units operated around the Glasgow Electric network for over 40 years.

Ninety one of these 3-car trains were built by Pressed Steel at Linwood from 1959 to 1960.

The original livery of ‘Caledonian blue’ with yellow and black lining and grey roofs, gave these distinctive trains their nickname.

The electric trains entered service on the North Clyde routes in November 1960, but a series of incidents saw steam trains reintroduced in December, while the electric trains underwent modifications.

The North Clyde electrics resumed in October 1961 and South Clyde services started in May 1962.

Similar Class 311 units were built for the Inverclyde electrification in 1967.

A down turn in passenger numbers saw 12 sets sent to the north west of England in the early 1980s.
50 units were refurbished at Glasgow Works between 1984-87 with new interiors.

Interior of refurbished 303012, July 2001. Photo by Dysgraphyk

The remaining unrefurbished units were replaced by new Class 320 units, and were withdrawn from service by November 1990.

One unrefurbished unit, 303048, was restored to original blue livery in March 1991, and was used on special duties for a number of years. It was scrapped in 1998.

By the late 90s there were only 40 units left in service and eventually they were withdrawn once the class 334s became more reliable.

The last units in service were 303011 and 303088, which worked the 09:27 Bellgrove – Helensburgh on 30 December 2002.

Only 303032 survives and is based at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway where it can operate in push-pull mode with a diesel loco.


Milngavie Station


All this to justify posting this track

“Blue Train” – John Coltrane

To buy the music of John Coltrane click HERE


January 14, 2010 - Posted by | Educational, Family, Jazz, Old Music, Photography | , , ,


  1. Great post!

    Comment by bigrab | January 14, 2010 | Reply

  2. One of my earliest memories is of getting the ‘blue train’ to Bearsden. What is it about trains that can get even non-trainspotters misty eyed?

    Comment by Robbo | January 15, 2010 | Reply

  3. Ah yes, the ‘Blue Train’. How much of my childhood was sat at the front carriage of these, kidding on i was the driver too? And oh the disapointment if he had pulled down the blind! The interiors were really plush. Big, high-backed seats (or was I just that much smaller then?) that had a tartan-ish pattern and seemed very ‘bouncy’- good springs I guess. The ends of the cars were sectioned off with doors, though I can’t remember if this was to created smoking or non-smoking sections? This was always a big deal to my Mum and Aunties who were all puffing away into Glasgow. I also remember a wee metal panel above the ashtray that said ‘DOUBT YOUR CIGARETTES HERE’ (as opposed to leaving them smoldering in the ashtray or just flicking them on the floor). The ventilation in the carriages was provided by two sliding windows above the main windows, which were always very stiff (the metalwork seeemed quite grimy) and needed some strength to prise them apart or push back together. The doors opened quite noisily too though the rubber button that said ‘OPEN’ didn’t seem to count for much – I remember the doors all opening anyway?
    Gone now along with the ‘Blue trains’ on the north-clyde route are many of the stations that were rebuilt when the service began in the 1960’s. Coatdyke and Carntyne had very similar flat-topped square ticket offices and were very smart looking in my eyes. They were cleared away in the 1980’s, leaving nothing but glorified bus sheltered on the platforms as replacements but thankfully Airdrie and Easterhouse are much the same.

    Comment by Jim Tute | May 16, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for dropping in, you can’t beat a regular dollup of good old nostalgic posting.


      Comment by thehelplessdancer | May 16, 2010 | Reply

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