Campaigners are calling for a rethink on plans for light rail or tram-train links to Glasgow Airport.
Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils are developing plans either for tram-trains to run from Glasgow Central to the airport via Paisley (at a cost of £144 million), or for a light rail system between Paisley Gilmour Street and the airport (expected to cost £101m).
The tram-train could offer 161/2-minute journey times between Glasgow city centre and the airport, with construction starting in 2021 and services beginning in 2025.
However, campaigning group RailQwest argues that neither option would be as suitable as a high-capacity heavy rail link from Glasgow Central to the airport. It says there are three main objections to tram-trains:
- The Glasgow-Paisley line already has an intensive high-speed and high-frequency service for which tram-trains with lower maximum speeds may be unsuitable.
- Network connectivity will be restricted within greater Glasgow/Scotland if Glasgow Airport can be served exclusively only by tram-trains, whose lower infrastructure specification will preclude access by all the current rail rolling stock in Britain.
- “The forcing through imposition of tram-trains and in generally unsuitable situations on the basis/hope of a speculative precedent established by a favourable outcome of the Sheffield-Rotherham trial may well be quite irrelevant to other geographic lines with quite different needs, type and density of traffic - including heavy freight traffic,” says RailQwest.
A Transport Scotland report also suggested that introducing tram-trains to the Glasgow-Paisley route could create a “significant impact” on other services should the planned frequency of four trains per hour be introduced.
The Glasgow and Clyde Valley cabinet is due to decide in December whether either option should be pursued, with a final choice made in 2016. Earlier plans to connect Glasgow Airport with the national network were dropped in 2009, and the Scottish Parliament passed the Glasgow Airport Rail Link bill on November 29 2006. It was estimated to cost up to £210m.