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Glasgow Airport Rail Link scrapped amid spiralling costs

The £210M Glasgow Airport Rail Link was this week scrapped by the Scottish Government amid soaring project costs and increasing pressure on the government to rein in public spending.

“This is a project that will incur capital costs for several years,” said the Scottish Government’s finance secretary John Swinney.

“The government has been concerned at the rise in costs associated with the project due to significantly higher estimates of the cost to relocate existing infrastructure compared to the figures shared with parliament at the time of the legislation,” he said.

Transport Scotland said the costs associated with work on the airport campus have risen from £7.8M to £70M over the last two and half years. Most of this cost was associated with relocating a fuel farm, which in January was priced at £37M.

Simply not justifiable

“This is money we would have to spend without laying a single metre of track and in today’s challenging economic climate that is simply not justifiable,” said a Transport Scotland spokesman. The airport rail link was central to Glasgow’s successful bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Swinney has instead pledged financial support for a bus rapid transit system, known as Fastlink, as a replacement and has assured the Scottish Parliament that other capital projects, including the Forth Replacement Crossing, will continue as planned.

“Our land use strategy will have to be relooked at. It’s been a huge disappointment given the effort involved and the benefits it could have delivered.”

Stuart White, BAA

Network Rail will also continue with a £182M project to upgrade 9km of route between Paisley, Gilmour Street and Glasgow Central which would have formed part of the route.

Glasgow airport owner BAA said it was disappointed that the new link has been dropped. It is currently contesting a ruling that it must sell either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports.

“We’ve been working on access strategy based on the rail link with Transport Scotland over the last few years,” said BAA Glasgow airport development director Stuart White.

“Our land use strategy will have to be relooked at. It’s been a huge disappointment given the effort involved and the benefits it could have delivered.”

The scheme was due to go to tender in Spring this year after BMV (Balfour Beatty, Morgan Est and Vinci joint venture), Carillion, Morrison Construction and Roadbridge/Sisk were shortlisted in December 2008.

“In the last couple of months, there has been hesitance from Transport Scotland to move things forward,” said White.

Readers' comments (1)

  • This is just so typical of the Scottish Government & in particular the SNP's "biscuit tin" mentality. Glasgow Airport is the main airport in Scotland (sorry edinburgh folks) yet is in the middle of nowhere and the links to the city are atrocious. GBP210M is a small price to pay for something that will benefit many. But peer down over Hadrians Wall where the Tate Modern is being revamped and extended for the price of.....wait for it.....GBP215M. I am utterly ashamed to be scottish nowadays. If you cant wrap it in tartan and stick it in a tube to hawk to unsuspecting tourists on the Royal Mile, then it isnt worth doing, eh Mr Swinney & MrSalmond!

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