Fares, rail policy and DfT news

09.04.19

Glasgow Airport’s tram-train link is ‘dead’ with shuttle pod system preferred

Plans for a direct tram-train link to Glasgow airport have been branded “dead” by the leader of the city council.

Local politicians have been calling for a direct rail link between Glasgow city centre and its airport “as a matter of urgency”, but in January a shuttle pod system was proposed instead – which one Labour MP called a “betrayal of the city.”

But Glasgow City Council’s leader Susan Aitken has now branded hopes for the full tram-train link as “dead” after the plans fell apart under scrutiny.

Plans to connect the city centre and airport were put forward in 2014 as part of the £1.13bn Glasgow City Region deal but capacity issues have so far limited progress.

Speaking in January, Labour MSP Colin Smyth said it was to Glasgow’s “shame” that it has the largest UK airport not served by rail, and urged the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland to find solutions not excuses.

But despite cross-party pleas, a proposal for a ‘personal rapid transit’ shuttle pod system such as the one used at Heathrow Airport was put forward, and is now the most likely option for a link.

The tram-train scheme was hit with setbacks after a study claimed it would negatively impact on other services at Central Station.

Glasgow Labour leader Frank McAveety said the shuttle pod system had been described as a “toy town solution” to the city’s problems by the chamber of commerce.

He added: “They’re not the only ones who were critical of the new developments in terms of the airport rail link and to make the case of an integrated rail link. Why are they wrong?”

Susan Aitken said that the outline business case was arranged in January after it was agreed across all the partners that a revised case was needed with a focus on systems used across other European and UK airports.

“Personal Rapid Transit encompasses a whole range of different types of transportation, which will link the airport directly into our existing rail system, as is the norm for airport access links.

“That work is being carried out and whatever the final form of the new project and the new link, it will take place within the same timescale as the tram-train project.”

Aitken said despite some councillors clinging onto the tram-train project, it had fallen apart “quickly under the first serious scrutiny it had.”

“There has been I believe, deliberately or otherwise, a mischaracterisation of what the potential new project will be.”

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