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Glasgow airport rail link 'a year behind schedule'


The £160m rail link between Glasgow city centre to Glasgow Airport has fallen a year behind schedule, transport bosses said yesterday. They believe the link, originally promised for 2008, will not now open until 2009 because of Scottish Parliament red tape.

Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT), the agency promoting the rail link, is lobbying for legislation to be speeded up to get the project through the Scottish Parliamenty faster than normal. It calculates construction work, including a new viaduct over St James playing fields in Paisley and the M8, will take between two to three years. That would put completion towards the end of 2009 unless work - in parliament and outside - could be speeded up.

Alistair Watson, Chairman of SPT, said: '2008 was always our timescale, but it is quite clear the date has now slipped into 2009. Nevertheless, if the parliamentary process is expedited - and it looks as if all the political parties are agreeing to that - then we could have a quicker timetable.'

SPT, under the draft Bill, will upgrade 5 miles of track between Glasgow and Paisley, boosting capacity for services from Glasgow Central to Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and Inverclyde. They will also build a mile-long spur from Gilmour Street Station, Paisley, to Glasgow Airport.

Work can only begin on the project when a Bill has gone through Parliament and, under current rules, that could take a year. SPT has not even been able to put its Bill before Parliament yet. The only hope of an earlier resolution is if MSPs back separate legislation, scheduled to be considered some time in the spring, that would speed up private Bills.

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said: 'We expect the Glasgow airport rail link will be one of the first to benefit from the proposed changes to the private Bills process if the Parliament agrees to support them.'

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