Light rail and trams

30.04.19

Commission calls for £10bn transport investment in Glasgow rail schemes and city-wide metro network

A Glasgow City Council commission has called for a £10bn transport investment into rail schemes and a city-wide metro system.

The report from the Glasgow Connectivity Commission puts forward a number of “bold, ambitious and transformative projects” upgrade the city’s transport capacity, including a “radical” vision for a Glasgow Metro.

The network of high-capacity rapid-transport lines would serve as much of the city as possible, with the first link recommended to be Glasgow Airport via Renfrew, Braehead and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

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The commission, set up 18 months ago by the city council, wants to develop on-street trams, convert heavy rail to light rail, and revive abandoned rail routes for the new metro network.

The report also proposes connecting Glasgow’s two main city rail terminals and preparing Glasgow Central Station for HS2, and the total cost of the rail and metro schemes has been estimated to be £10bn over the next 20 years.

It says that whilst it “would be easy to baulk at the scale,” the commission was persuaded by evidence that one of the biggest infrastructure interventions in Glasgow in the last half-century could deliver a step change in performance of Scotland’s economic powerhouse.

Professor David Begg, who chairs the commission, said the report tackles issues outside the control of Glasgow City Council – but if it is to achieve such a transformation then “we need to raise Glasgow’s levels of ambition.”

He said: “It is now time to consider strategic changes which not merely add to our already congested network but reshape its purpose in order to support future growth for the decades ahead, including connecting to new HS2 services.”

The report describes Glasgow as a city of connectivity contradictions and contrasts, with significant gaps in the Victorian network, and despite having the one of the lowest levels of car ownership in the UK, its bus network has experienced the steepest decline in the last decade of any UK city.

The commission recommends the creation of a single holistic development plan for Glasgow, with Transport Scotland taking the lead for the development of the Glasgow Metro, HS2 terminus and more.

The report proposes developing the metro network to the south west around the airport, which is particularly poorly connected, and wants Glasgow Central and Queen Street stations to be connected by a tunnel to increase capacity.

Begg said the current system “is not working effectively and efficiently as it should be and the solution is metro system”. He called the recommendations “ambitious and achievable” with around £500m a year needed for the next two decades to deliver the schemes.

Plans for a rail link to Glasgow airport have been under fierce debate in recent months, with local politicians calling for a direct tram-train link -- but this has now seemingly been scrapped in favour of a shuttle pod system after the previous plans fell apart under scrutiny.

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