Glasgow City Council has insisted that it and its City Deal partners are committed to taking forward ‘a surface access project’ to Glasgow airport, but is rethinking its current plans following a consultant’s report that cast doubt on the scheme.
Under the £144m Glasgow Airport Access Project (GAAP), which is the flagship project for the £1.13bn Glasgow City Region City deal, specially designed tram-trains would carry passengers to and from the airport on both the existing railway network a new light rail spur from Paisley to the airport.
However, the Times reported that Jacobs, who had been hired by Transport Scotland to review the business case for the project, queried both the costs and benefits and warned that it could cause delays on rail routes south of the city.
The consultants' report also found that the new link would not get passengers to the airport in time for early morning flights and that many passengers would arrive quicker on the existing bus service, the Times said.
Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet, said: ‘We remain committed to a surface access project to Glasgow Airport, funded from the City Deal. However, it is crucial that we fully explore the limitations and risks this report states the GAAP project in its current form could face.
‘The report has cast up a number of areas of concern around the tram-train scheme which may lead us to revise the strategic business case to ensure the project we commit to is equipped to lever the economic growth and other social & environmental benefits it has the potential to. I am confident this can be done without adding substantially to delivery timescales.
‘The findings of this study provide the foundations for Glasgow and partner authorities to better deliver the long-term aspiration for improved connectivity to Glasgow Airport not put an end to it. We will consider the findings and discuss them with partners in the city region cabinet, as well as Network Rail and Transport Scotland, in the coming weeks.'
In an interview with Holyrood magazine last week, transport minister Humza Yousaf said there is still ‘some work to be done’ on the project, but added that if any cost increase is managed and the the impact on other rail networks mitigated, ‘there is no reason why it shouldn’t go ahead’.
He said: ‘I commissioned an independent study of the outline business case, and I’ve had the report back so I should be able to comment on it in the not too distant future.
‘But all that being said, I am positive about finding a solution to the airport access project. It just can’t come at additional cost to the Scottish taxpayers who have already put in a lump sum for city deal projects.’