Ayrshire Coast Line

Ardrossan Town Station
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Ardrossan Town Station

A railway which connects Glasgow Central Station with two groups of towns on the Ayrshire coast. The first 7-mile / 11.5 km section as far as Paisley Gilmour Street Station is shared with the Inverclyde Line, and was built as the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway, which began service in 1840. Opening the same year, the next 19-mile / 31-km section represents part of the former Glasgow, Paisley, Kilmarnock and Ayr Railway, with stations serving settlements including Johnstone, Howwood, Lochwinnoch, Beith, Glengarnock and Dalry to a large triangular junction at Kilwinning. The line then continues for 15 miles / 24 km south to Irvine, Barassie, Troon, Prestwick and Ayr. The triangular junction comprises three connected junctions; namely Kilwinning Junction, Dubbs Junction and Byrehill Junction. From here a 4½ miles / 7.5 km branch turns west to Stevenston, Saltcoats and Ardrossan, which follows the route of the former Ardrossan Railway, that began operations in 1831 with wagons pulled by horses. This took coal from the Earl of Eglinton's mines for export from Ardrossan, but was also planned to link the Glasgow, Paisley and Johnstone Canal to its intended but never-reached final destination of Ardrossan. Here, a short branch reaches Ardrossan Harbour, while the line was extended for 11½ miles / 18.5 km north to West Kilbride, Fairlie and Largs between 1880 and 1885. This was a challenging route, running along a steeply-sloping coastline and involving the lengthy Fairlie Tunnel. These lines all became part of the Glasgow and South Western Railway in 1850, the London, Midland and Scottish (LMS) Railway in 1923 and nationalised with the entire British network in 1948. Diesel trains replaced steam in 1959. The Ayrshire Coast Line was electrified in 1987 and is operated by ScotRail. Its total length is 58½ miles (94 km) and there are twenty-seven stations; twelve in North Ayrshire, six in South Ayrshire, five in Renfrewshire and four in Glasgow City, together with the Elderslie Rail Freight Terminal.

The fastest journey times from Glasgow to Ayr is 47 minutes, while Glasgow to Largs averages an hour. The line grew in importance as it allowed Glaswegians access to coastal resorts and continues to provide a connection to ferries; namely from Ardrossan to Arran and Kintyre, from Largs to Great Cumbrae, and Troon to Larne in Northern Ireland. The line also serves Prestwick Airport.

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