MSPs give Glasgow Airport Rail Link the green light

29 Nov 2006

MSPs today (Wednesday 29 November) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a fast, direct rail link between Glasgow city centre and Glasgow Airport.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport - the Promoter of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) Private Bill - expects the first trains to run by end 2010. SPT chair cllr Alistair Watson said the decision was an important day for Scotland and said that detailed design work was well underway.

He said: "This is an historic day for Scotland and the culmination of two-and-a-half years of careful planning and hard work. We are delighted that the Scottish Parliament has decided to give us the backing to make this scheme a reality.

"Most major international cities worldwide have fast, reliable links between their principal airport and the city centre and now Glasgow will have one too. For us though this is not the end but the beginning. We will continue to work closely with those affected by the building of the link to make sure we minimise the impact on their daily lives both during construction and when the link is up and running.

"We are now entering the design and procurement stage where the design of the link is finalised and we decide who to appoint to build the link. Now we have approval to proceed we will be doing everything within our power to turn the Glasgow Airport Rail Link from plan to reality. I would also like to thank all MSPs for their interest in the bill and in particular the GARL Private Bill Committee members for their patience and detailed scrutiny as this bill proceeded through the parliamentary stages. In addition, I would like to pay tribute to the officers, vice chairs and previous chairs of SPT for working so hard to make this scheme a reality."

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link is being promoted by SPT and supported by Transport Scotland. Transport Scotland project manager, John Gordon said: "This is an important day in the delivery of a project which will bring real benefits to the people and businesses of west and central Scotland. We acknowledge the hard work put in by SPT in promoting the necessary Private Bill through the Scottish Parliament, the assistance and input from the other key stakeholders, and look forward to this continued spirit of partnership as we move towards delivery. The challenge now is to deliver the GARL project that meets the aspirations of the travelling public and rail industry, whilst ensuring that we stay within the agreed cost and schedule."

Stephen Baxter, managing director of BAA Scotland, operator of Glasgow Airport, said: "We welcome today's decisive vote. It is a good decision for Glasgow and for Scotland. This is an ambitious, exciting project and we look forward to working with SPT over the coming months to turn the long held ambition of a Glasgow Airport rail link into a firm reality. This decision brings us a step closer to achieving that goal."

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link proposal is to upgrade 9km (5.4 miles) of existing track between Shields Junction and Paisley Gilmour Street station and to lay 1.9km (1.2miles) of new track between Paisley St James station and Glasgow Airport. The new track will cross St James Park and the M8. A new platform will also be built in Central Station and a new track laid at the Elderslie sidings. The main construction on the Glasgow Airport Rail Link will begin in 2008 while some preparatory work - such as the construction of temporary football pitches in the Paisley area - will begin in 2007.

Over the coming weeks SPT will assess which contractor it wants to complete a contract to create 11 temporary football pitches at seven different locations in the Paisley area. Work on this contract - which would include the provision of parking, changing facilities, drainage, goals and fencing - would begin in 2007 and last until 2008. The temporary pitches are critical to allow construction of the viaduct to commence.

The new rail link would provide a dedicated train service every 15 minutes between Glasgow Central Station and a new station at Glasgow Airport. Trains will stop once at Paisley Gilmour Street and the journey time will be 16 minutes.

The Department for Transport estimates that passenger numbers at Glasgow Airport are predicted to almost double, from 8.2million a year in 2003, to over 15 million passengers a year in 2030. Airport owner, BAA Scotland's latest forecasts are even higher and indicate that passenger numbers could rise as high as 24 million by 2030. At present, 95% of these passengers travelling to Glasgow Airport do so by road.

The rail link will provide more travel choice for airport users and establish a sustainable transport link to Glasgow Airport, which is a major employer and one of the biggest wealth generators in the region. It will increase the rail opportunities for travellers using Paisley Gilmour Street station.

The link will also benefit the tourist industry. According to Roger Tym & Partners, Glasgow Airport Rail Link could help bring 52,500 additional UK and overseas visitors and contribute towards £10m in additional visitor expenditure every year to Glasgow, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde. The link would also support the Glasgow City region's conference sector business, worth an estimated £115m annually. In addition, the link will help support 1300 jobs across Glasgow and Renfrewshire including 650-700 gross new jobs in Paisley town centre.

The Minister for Transport announced in a statement earlier this year to the Scottish Parliament that he expected delivery of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link by the end of 2010. The Transport Minister's recent statement places the out-turn cost - cost at point of completion - at between £170m and £210m. This is consistent with SPT's projections.

Since 2004 SPT has consulted widely on its Glasgow Airport Rail Link proposals. SPT's formal public consultation into the Glasgow Airport Rail Link ran from 1 November 2004 to 28 February 2005 - there were a total of 1638 formal responses. In addition, 284 people attended public meetings and focus groups and 917 people visited the exhibition stands at various locations in Glasgow and Renfrewshire. The formal consultation saw more than 20,000 information leaflets distributed to homes and businesses along the route of the proposed link. A further 15,000 leaflets were distributed on local train services. A series of public exhibitions and meetings have been held and a website has also been created www.spt.co.uk/garl. In late January 2006, SPT sent out more than 12,000 leaflets to people living along the line of the proposed route. The consultation continues.

For further information contact SPT's public relations team on 0141 333 3152/3153.

  • Artist's impression of Glasgow Airport rail link supplied by SPT

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