£144m plan for Glasgow Airport ‘tram-trains’

Glasgow Council leaders have unveiled plans to build a direct “tram-trains” rail link between Glasgow Airport, Paisley and Glasgow city centre.

It said the £144 million Glasgow Airport Access Project is the flagship project for the £1.13 billion Glasgow City Region City deal.

“Journeys to and from the airport would be transformed as a state-of-the-art system would carry passengers on specially designed tram-trains using both the existing railway network and a new light rail spur from Paisley to the airport,” said the council.

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan, who holds the enterprise portfolio in the Glasgow City Region Cabinet and Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety, the chair of the cabinet, officially unveiled the plan.

Macmillan said: “This is a vital transport development that will bring huge benefits to Renfrewshire and the rest of the Glasgow City Region.

“Glasgow Airport is key to the success of our local and regional economies. It supports more than 7,300 jobs — 5,200 of which are in Renfrewshire — and this project will help increase annual passenger numbers from eight to 13 million by 2030.

“Improved transport connections will support the growth of the airport and open up the area to tourism and businesses, bringing inward investment and creating jobs for local people.

“It will also enhance the benefits of our other City Deal projects, which are designed to unlock our economic potential, creating a world class business and commercial location with excellent links across the Clyde and into our town and city centres.”

Glasgow Council said the plans are set to be endorsed by the Glasgow City Region Cabinet in December after being discussed by Renfrewshire and Glasgow councils in the coming weeks.

If approved the system would be operational by 2025, with construction due to begin three years earlier.

McAveety said: “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.

“This announcement represents a significant milestone in the journey we’ve been on for many years.

“We are committed to delivering this tram-train link and, best of all, the money to pay for it is already in the bank.”

Ross Nimmo, head of planning and development for Glasgow Airport, said: “We welcome the identification of tram train as the preferred option.

“Not only is it a significant milestone in the Glasgow Airport Access Project, it is the culmination of rigorous planning over several years.

“It has a very strong business case, with conservative estimates suggesting the airport is set to become one of the busiest train stations in Scotland.

“This is great news for travellers, and whether they choose the train, the bus or the car, Glasgow Airport will be easier to get to than ever before.”

The proposals would see up to four tram-trains per hour running in each direction taking passengers between Glasgow Central Station, Paisley Gilmour Street and the airport.

An interchange point at Paisley Gilmour Street would enable passengers from the Paisley area and from destinations on the Ayrshire and Inverclyde train lines to access the service to the airport without having to travel via the city centre.

Journeys across the length of the route would take 16.5 minutes on average, meaning a dramatic improvement for people travelling to and from the airport by public transport.

Currently, more than 80 per cent of passengers and staff travel to and from the airport by road, with the M8 already suffering from repeated and worsening congestion during peak times.

Dr John McCormick, chairman of the Scottish Association for Public Transport, welcomed the progress with the project.

McCormick said: “A tram-rain link between Glasgow Central and Glasgow Airport will seamlessly integrate the ScotRail network with the international air network.

“The electrically powered vehicles will reduce CO2 emissions generated by surface travel to the airport. The rail link will also provide a reliable journey time, bypassing the increasingly congested M8.

“Importantly, it will raise the profile of Scotland’s largest city, providing a fast and reliable journey to the city centre for travellers arriving by air.”