ENGINEERS AND transport groups this week insisted that the planned rail link from Edinburgh airport to the rest of the Scottish network would win public support despite its £500M price tag.
Scottish Executive transport minister Nicol Stephen launched a major public consultation on the project, which includes a 1.5km bored tunnel beneath the airport's main runway.
Transport lobbyist Transform Scotland argued that the airport could be better served by a new link into Edinburgh's Waverley station, using some existing track. The airport is already due to get a tram service.
But ICE Council member and Parsons Brinckerhoff Scotland area manager David Hutchinson disagreed.
'The link will open up transport and tourism within Scotland and that's where the big benefit lies, ' he said.
The proposed scheme will divert trains via new rail links to and from the main EdinburghGlasgow and Edinburgh-Fife lines.
This will open up direct travel from the airport to Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Stirling, and Newcastle.
The scheme requires an Act of Scottish Parliament and this process will start in the spring with the submission of a private bill.
The bill is expected to pass late in 2006, with construction of the rail link beginning in early 2007, making the line operational during 2010/11.