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31.01.19

Glasgow Airport rail link plans could be ditched for rapid shuttle pod system

A long-awaited rail link to Glasgow Airport could be ditched in favour of a shuttle pod system between the airport and Paisley.

Instead of a full tram-train rail link, a ‘personal rapid transit’ shuttle pod system such as the one used at Heathrow Airport has been proposed from Glasgow Airport to Paisley Gilmour Street.

The Scottish transport secretary met with representatives from the airport and local council leaders yesterday, and have agreed to produce a business case for the personal rapid transit system.

Ahead of the meeting, Glasgow Airport’s managing director Mark Johnston publicly called for urgent action to improve the city’s rail links.

Commenting on a new report which stated that the airport contributed £1.44bn and 30,000 jobs to the local economy, Johnston said Glasgow had the only airport of its size in Europe still heavily reliant on road access.

The transport secretary Michael Matheson commented: “It’s crucial that improving access to Glasgow Airport is balanced with the needs of the region’s existing transport network.

“The Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system option potentially meets this aim, and I look forward to seeing the revised business case once it’s completed.”

Opposition parties united last week to make a cross-party plea to Holyrood to build a rail link between the city centre and the airport “as a matter of urgency.”

Plans to connect Glasgow airport to the city centre were put forward in 2014 as part of a £1.13bn city region deal, but the project has not moved forward due concerns over a lack of capacity.

The tram-train link hit problems when a study claimed it would impact negatively on other services in the West of Scotland and on Central Station, meaning transport officials were no longer keen on progressing it as an option despite the pleas.

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken stated that improved connectivity was a key priority, but noted advice from officers and consultants that “significant questions” remained about the deliverability of the current tram-train option.

She said: “As a result, the Executive Steering Group has agreed additional work should be done to establish an alternative Outline Business Case for a PRT option.”

Johnston said he had been informed about the alternative option and stated that he will continue to “work with partners to promote the delivery of an effective solution within the agreed timescale.”

Image credit - Skybum

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