A plan to link Glasgow Airport with Paisley Gilmour Street will be explored further, after proposals for a direct route between the airport and Glasgow city centre were judged to have raised “significant challenges”.
A direct rail link to Glasgow Central station was announced as part of the £1.13 billion Glasgow City Region deal agreed in 2014 and was expected to be operational by 2025.
However, following analysis of the proposals, concerns were raised regarding several aspects of such a link.
These included its funding, sustainability and economic impact, as well as the capacity issues at Glasgow Central.
Speaking at the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken said that a joint-executive steering group (which includes Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils, Transport Scotland, Network Rail and Glasgow Airport) would evalaute alternative options for improving airport connectivity.
Ms Aitken said: “There will be an airport link. It will, probably, be a different project from the outlined business case that was passed by the City Region Cabinet in 2016.
“I think it’s fair to say that Transport Scotland always had significant concerns about the impact on Central Station capacity, in particular, of an additional line.
“There was an agreement to commission a report to look into the details of that business case and when that report came out, I think it’s fair to say that it raised very, very significant challenges on a number of levels.
“The conclusion that we came to was an alternative option that would be linking the airport directly with, probably, Paisley Gilmour Street in the way that, for example, Gatwick North terminal is linked to the railway station at Gatwick South terminal.
“So with some kind of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system, of which there are various options, a small tram or shuttle type arrangement, with Paisley Gilmour Street essentially becoming the airport station and then people connecting into existing rail services to make their way into, not just the city centre of Glasgow, but other parts of the city region.
“That was one of the options which was looked into at the time, there was no outline business case taken forward for it so what we’ve now agreed is that we will take forward a fuller business case for that and look into whether that’s a feasible option.”
Under the original proposals, as set out in the City Regions deal, work on the link was to begin in 2023 and be fully operational by 2025.
Ms Aitken indicated that the timescale for revised proposals would not change from those that had been previously set out.
She said: “Anything that is more of a national strategic transport project will have a different timeline and that’s obviously still to be developed.
“But we would expect it to happen within exactly the same timeline”.
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “It is crucial that improving access to Glasgow Airport is balanced with the needs of all users of the region’s transport network and avoids a negative impact on users of the rail network in particular.
“The personal rapid transit system option potentially meets this aim, so it is sensible that it is fully explored before a final decision is made. As this is a City Region Deal project any decision rests with the City Region Deal Cabinet.”