Rail link to Glasgow Airport could be operational by 2025

A scheme to build a tram-train link is one of two options being put forward for a new connection between Glasgow city centre, Paisley and Glasgow Airport as the flagship project in the £1.13bn Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal.

Tram-train carriages would operate on the heavy rail network between Glasgow Central Station and Paisley Gilmour Street before moving on to new tram rails running between Paisley and the front of the airport terminal building. This would offer a 16.5-minute direct journey between the city centre and the front door of the airport.

A light rail personal rapid transit system is also being considered. In this scheme, passengers would travel by standard train to Paisley before disembarking and changing onto a new light-rail system to complete their journey to the airport.

Studies have shown that tram-train would be the best performing option, offering the best value for money, due to its greater attraction for users. This would result in more people using the service and better journey times for people travelling to and from the airport. It would come in at less than half the cost of a new heavy rail solution, which would cost an estimated £317m and is being ruled out as being too expensive.

The tram-train and personal rapid transit schemes are contained in a strategic business case which has been developed jointly by Renfrewshire Council and Glasgow City Council and is announced today. It will be put before councillors in both authorities before going to the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Cabinet for approval.

If approved, further work would be done to develop more detail on both of these options before a final, preferred choice is made next year.

It comes just weeks after Glasgow announced it had emerged as one of the strongest performing airports in Europe.

Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: “This new connection will contribute a great deal to the success of the City Region; supporting the airport’s continuing success and generating jobs throughout the area.

“City Deal has also committed £51million to the Glasgow Airport Investment Area where further infrastructure developments will create a business location offering unparalleled air, sea and land connectivity.

“The airport and Renfrewshire will be fully integrated into the Region’s transport network and play a pivotal role in its thriving economic future.”

Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Glasgow and the Clyde Valley is the economic powerhouse of Scotland and Glasgow Airport plays a crucial role in the continued growth of the region.

“We’ve long argued that a new rail link between the airport and the city centre is essential for the thousands of tourists and business travellers who fly into and out of Glasgow every day.
“The airport already supports thousands of jobs but this new rail link, which is the single biggest element of our City Deal, will be the catalyst that takes us to a new level, vastly improving the customer experience and generating even more jobs and inward investment.”

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport said: “This flagship project presents an exciting opportunity to deliver real benefits to the city region and beyond. We welcome all the positive steps that are being taken to progress this important project and will continue to work closely with colleagues at Renfrewshire Council, Glasgow City Council, Transport Scotland and Network Rail through to successful delivery and operation.

“Improving transport links to Glasgow Airport is a top priority for us, particularly at a time when we are enjoying sustained passenger growth. Over the past 12 months alone we have welcomed an additional one million passengers through our doors, so it is important that improved transport links can be achieved as soon as possible.”

The estimated cost of a tram-train link is £144.3m, which includes construction, rolling stock, inflation, contingency and land purchase. Construction could start in 2021 and it could be operational by 2025.

The personal rapid transit option would cost £102m and would involve a mix of the existing heavy rail network and a new light railway connecting from heavy rail at Paisley to the airport utilising a bespoke system similar to that used at other airports.

The strategic business case will be put to councillors for approval on the following dates:
• 2 December: Renfrewshire Council Leadership Board
• 10 December: Glasgow City Council’s Executive Committee
• 15 December: Glasgow and Clyde Valley Cabinet

Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal

The £1.13bn Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal is an agreement between the UK Government, the Scottish Government and eight local authorities across Glasgow and the Clyde Valley.

The City Deal will bring tens of thousands of jobs to Glasgow and the Clyde Valley over the next few decades through 20 infrastructure projects; drive innovation and growth through the support of key sectors such as life sciences; and address challenges in the region’s labour market.

Both the UK and Scottish Governments are each giving the Glasgow and Clyde Valley local authorities £500million in grant funding for the City Deal, and the local authorities will borrow a further £130million to use for capital investment.

The City Deal is expected to give Glasgow and Clyde Valley a permanent uplift in its GVA of £2.2billion per annum (4.4%); generate 15,000 construction jobs during the construction period and 28,000 permanent additional jobs once construction is complete; and will unlock £3.3billion of private sector investment.

The airport access project within the City Deal programme is being delivered jointly by Renfrewshire Council and Glasgow City Council, with Renfrewshire acting as the lead authority.
Delivery of City Deal projects is overseen by the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Cabinet, chaired by Cllr Frank McAveety. Business cases for projects go through three stages of approval at the cabinet: strategic, outline and full, with each stage unlocking funding to allow the project to proceed to the next stage.

Glasgow Airport

Glasgow Airport is owned by AGS Airports Limited. AGS Airports is a partnership between Ferrovial and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) established in 2014 to invest in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports. In December 2014, Amanda McMillan, Managing Director of Glasgow Airport, was appointed as the CEO for AGS as a group.

With 30 airlines serving more than 110 destinations worldwide, including Canada, the US, the Caribbean, Europe and the Gulf, Glasgow Airport is Scotland’s principal long-haul airport.

In addition to being Scotland’s largest charter hub, Glasgow Airport serves more Scottish destinations than any other airport and is a key component of Scotland’s transport infrastructure. The airport supports over 7,300 jobs across Scotland and makes the largest contribution of any airport to Scotland’s economy, generating hundreds of millions of pounds.

According to European airport trade body, ACI Europe, Glasgow Airport was one of Europe’s fastest growing airports during the first six months of 2015.  It was also the third fastest growing airport in its category during June and July 2015 and the fourth fastest in August. ACI Europe categorises airports based on passenger numbers with Glasgow Airport falling into group three – airports welcoming between 5 and 10 million passengers.

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