Call to make Crossrail a priority after new backing

21 Jan 2008

Stewart Paterson, The Herald

Campaigners are calling on national transport planners to make the long-awaited Glasgow Crossrail project a priority following the publication of a new study showing potential economic benefits.

The report shows four million passengers a year are expected to use the route, which would include three new stations in Glasgow.

The study by Faber Maunsell consultants, which goes before Strathclyde Partnership for Transport councillors this week, suggests Crossrail would provide benefits to the economy by £1.06bn over 60 years.

On the back of the findings, SPT wants Transport Scotland to include the Crossrail scheme in its Strategic Transport Projects Review, which will outline the country's priorities for the next 10 years.

Officials believe inclusion in the review represents the best chance to see the project come to fruition after years of campaigning by SPT, politicians and businesses. If omitted, it is feared the opportunity could be lost for another 10 years.

Crossrail was first recommended in the Greater Glasgow Transportation Study in 1968 and officials in the city have been calling for it ever since.

In 2005, a feasibility study showed the rail infrastructure needed for the project was possible and the latest study shows the economic case is also viable.

The proposal links the rail networks north and south of the Clyde by utilising a little-used line which runs from near High Street Station to Gorbals.

High Street Station would need to be relocated and a new station at Glasgow Cross in the Mercat Building would be the focus in the city centre, with stations at Gorbals and West Street.

It is estimated that the scheme would cost between £115m and £187m, although that is at 2005 prices and with inflation and increases in steel costs that is likely to be considerably higher.

SPT chairman Alistair Watson said: "SPT have argued the case for Crossrail for a long, long time.

"Now our claims are backed by this independent study by one of the railway's most respected consultants. Crossrail is worth the money for Glasgow and Scotland. It wouldn't cost hundreds of millions and would be a vital addition to the regeneration of the city's east end."

John Halliday, SPT assistant chief executive, told councillors in a report on the Faber Maunsell study: "The capacity of the high level terminal stations at Glasgow Central and Queen Street is severely constrained. While Transport Scotland and Network Rail are considering options for expanding the capacity of the stations, the potential appears to be relatively limited.

"Crossrail provides an opportunity to create a significant increase in cross-Glasgow capacity, at the same time serving key regeneration areas at relatively modest cost."

The Strategic Transport Projects Review has been running for the past 18 months and Transport Scotland will announce the chosen priority projects this summer.

Currently, improvements to the Glasgow to Edinburgh rail line and a new Forth road crossing are being considered.

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said: "The Strategic Transport Projects Review will consider Crossrail along with other ways of improving connections across Glasgow."

Reproduced with the permission of The Herald (Glasgow) © Newsquest (Herald & Times) Ltd.

  • Crossrail will use the City Union Railway Bridge – 1899

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