Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken has insisted a scheme to provide a new transport link between the city and airport is still on the table, after a report by Jacobs raised concerns about the tram-train proposal.
Last year the city announced a £144M tram train project to link the airport to the city centre. It could see construction start in 2022. Called the Glasgow Airport Access Project, it is the flagship project for the £1.13 billion Glasgow City Region City deal. The plan would see journeys to and from the airport on specially designed tram-trains using both the existing railway network a new light rail spur from Paisley to the airport.
However a report by consultants Jacobs has raised problems. According to a report in The Times, Jacobs said that the scheme would use up space at the city’s Central rail station which could be used by busier trains, could struggle to attract passengers and may not be as convenient as buses.
The newspaper reported that Scottish government sources said the project is “doomed” and it understood another option was being considered.
In response, Aitken Tweeted: “News to me! This is pure speculation. Lots of very robust processes to go through with City Region partners before even getting close to any decision on possible alternative airport link proposals.”
At the beginning of this month, Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said there are currently no more train-tram schemes lined up following the botched pilot project in Sheffield.
During questioning by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Carne was asked whether there were any benefits to be had from the £75M pilot. He said that although schemes have been mooted in Glasgow, Cardiff, Manchester and Newcastle, no projects using the new technology have been confirmed.
On Friday, Aitken announced the establishment of the Connectivity Commission, an independent body to rethink the city centre’s transport. The group is being headed by spearheaded by former Government transport advisor professor David Begg.