Civils and stations


The Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL)

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Oct/Nov 2006

A close-up view of Faber Maunsell’s work on the landmark project

In May 2004, Faber Maunsell was commissioned by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) to act as Principal Consultant for the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL). Since then, Faber Maunsell has been developing the concept of a direct rail link to Glasgow International Airport from Glasgow Central Station. This scheme was submitted as a Private Bill to the Scottish Parliament in January 2006.

The essential details

GARL provides a rail service every fifteen minutes between Glasgow Central Station and the Airport. The journey will take 16 minutes, making a stop at Paisley Gilmour Street Station.

Passengers will certainly welcome the amenity. In 2003, 8.2 million people used Glasgow International Airport, with 95% of people traveling to the airport by road. BAA, the Airport operator, forecasts that patronage will grow to 24 million by 2030. As the M8 Motorway is already congested, an alternative fast, direct route is needed between Glasgow city centre and the airport. In addition, the rail link will create jobs in the area and support the growth of the airport – thus providing a strong all-round economic case.

As part of this work Faber Maunsell has undertaken:

A study of options to increase the capacity of the main line between Shields Junction and Paisley Gilmour Street station. A number of changes will be made on the main line to provide the capacity that is required for the additional GARL Services. This includes the re-configuration of Wallneuk and Arkleston junctions and the extension of the Up Loop at Elderslie to replace the Up Goods Loop at Arkleston

An examination of route alignment options for the 2km branch line to the airport.

An assessment of four options considered in the Branch Line Route Corridor Study was undertaken using STAG methodology. The final alignment for the new 2km branch line runs from Paisley St James Station on the Inverclyde line, crossing the Murray Business Park, St James Playing fields and the M8 Motorway before arriving at the new station at Glasgow International Airport.

A study of different options for locating the new station within the airport.

As with the Branch line alignment, alternative options for the airport station location were considered, giving consideration to the STAG appraisal criteria of Safety, Integration, Environment, Economy and Accessibility. The location of the new station is situated to the south of the multi-storey car park. Passengers arriving at Glasgow International Airport will access the new rail station by taking a short trip on a moving walkway.

Development of options for providing more platform capacity at Glasgow Central station.

It is intended to utilise the existing Platform 11a at Glasgow Central to provide additional platform capacity to accommodate the airport service.

Development of a timetable for the new 15 minute service. 

The analysis of the operational efficiency for options was undertaken using industry standard software Railplan and TrainPlan software tools.

Thorough examination of the business case behind the previous scheme.

Bespoke mode choice models were developed for air passengers and airport employees based on new local surveys.

An environmental impact assessment of the preferred scheme.

This was undertaken and submitted to all statutory consultees. The quality and thoroughness of this document was recognised in the responses received from consultees.

An extensive public consultation and communications campaign.

This campaign was led by Faber Maunsell and our sub-consultants. This took the form of exhibitions, public meetings, questionnaires, and meetings with specific groups such as resident associations.

The preliminary design.

This was undertaken by Faber Maunsell and our specialist sub-consultants, in accordance with Network Rail and BAA design standards, and full consultation was undertaken with both parties throughout the process. Of particular note was the design of the 140m single span tied arch crossing of the M8 Motorway at the airport.

The construction costs for the project.

These were estimated at £160m including an allowance for Optimum Bias (OB). The level of OB was calculated using a structured approach to risk assessment, developed by FM, which was commended by the Scottish Executive.

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link Bill is progressing through the Scottish Parliament. The GARL bill committee are expected to produce a report by November 2006, after which MSPs vote on whether the bill should be approved. It is estimated that this decision will be made towards the end of 2006, with Royal Assent possible in early 2007.

Key Features

• Reviewing the economic case for the project
• Developing a preliminary scheme to achieve and support lodgment of a bill to the Scottish Parliament
• Undertaking all necessary consultations to support the project
• Contributing to the preparation of the Parliamentary submission
• Supporting the SPT during the parliamentary process, including the provision of advice and expert witnesses.

Faber Maunsell is proud of its association with this challenging and prestigious project, which will enhance Glasgow Airport’s role as a gateway to Scotland. The commission was successfully delivered; however this was only achieved through a partnership approach with all the Faber Maunsell Team and, most importantly, having a very close working relationship with the SPT Project Team throughout the term of this work.

Faber Maunsell is an award winning consultancy. Our pedigree, built up over 80 years, enables us to offer a depth of experience that are a direct relevance to those involved in the planning, construction, operation and maintenance of railways, be they heavy rail, metro/transit or light rail.

A sample of our recent rail-related work includes:

• Glasgow Airport Rail Link. – design & parliamentary submission
• Edinburgh Tram Lines 2&3 – design and parliamentary submission
• Taiwan High Speed Rail Link – seismic viaduct and stations D&B
• London Rail Corridor Plans – strategy development
• London Gateway – rail and infrastructure design
• Markinch Rail new station and bus/rail interchange – engineering and rail infrastructure D&B
• Copenhagen Metro – engineering and rail infrastructure D&B.

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