Plans for a rail link between Glasgow city centre and the airport could be replaced by a high-speed passenger pod system.
Despite an impassioned plea from united Scottish opposition ministers, plans to connect Glasgow’s main train station, Glasgow Central, with the airport, look likely to be scrapped for good.
Last week Scottish Government transport and infrastructure secretary Michael Matheson confirmed that cross-party talks would be held to attempt to revive the project after almost two decades of planning.
However, in speaking to the Scottish Parliament, Matheson said that the project was likely to be replaced with a personal rapid transit (PRT) system like the one in use at Heathrow Terminal 5.
“City deal partners have identified a PRT system as the preferred option that they intend to take forward,” said Matheson.
The minister added that an independent audit had concluded that the construction of a full tram-train system would negatively impact other rail services from Glasgow Central to Inverclyde, Ayrshire and East Kilbride.
“The [Glasgow airport] rail link would have resulted in a reduction in, or a detrimental impact on, those services and would have prevented the enhancements that we intend to provide to them,” he said. “The Scottish Government remains committed to working with partners to find solutions to improve surface access to Glasgow airport.”
Scottish minister Johann Lamont was “dismayed” at the decision to propose a PRT when plans for the rail link are already well established.
“I cannot tell the cabinet secretary how dismayed I am,” Lamont said. “The money is there, the plan is agreed by the partners, the project is recognised as having social, economic and environmental benefits for Glasgow and the west of Scotland, but it is still not going to happen.”
Concern about the lack of rail access to the airport has become so great it has united the Scottish Opposition parties to make a joint plea to Holyrood.
Plans for a rail link between Glasgow Airport and the city’s Central railway station were first proposed in the early 2000s but were shelved after budget cuts in 2009. Plans were then resubmitted in 2016 but have so far struggled to gain traction.
A study conducted last month showed that Glasgow airport handled 9.7M passengers in 2018, generating more than £1.44bn annually and supporting more than 30,000 jobs across Scotland.
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