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Glasgow Airport rail link 'on track' despite committee concerns

08.06.06

A committee of MSPs are expected to give a grudging green light to plans for a new rail link to Glasgow Airport. But they will warn that the scheme is seriously hampered by a lack of direct connections to other parts of Scotland, according to press reports.

The planned rail link involves upgrading 5½ miles of track and laying one mile of track between Paisley St. James Station and Glasgow Airport. Based on 2004 prices, SPT estimates building the new link will cost £160m. The link could be up and running by 2009 if given the go-ahead.

The private bill, needed to authorise the land purchase and construction of the link, was introduced to the Scottish Parliament by Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT). A Holyrood committee of MSPs has studied the scheme and will recommend it should go to the full parliament for further consideration.

However, the committee failed to reach unanimous agreement on its final report. A number of members are reported to be are concerned that most people will still be cut off from direct links - for example, anyone who arrives in Glasgow at Queen Street will have to change stations to head for the airport. They are also concerned about the cost of the scheme and that it might only cut traffic on the M8 motorway by 2%.

Independent MSP Brian Monteith, a committee member, has gone as far as calling the scheme 'an expensive white elephant' and has said that it should be blocked altogether.

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