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Doubts over new airport link study

DOUBT has been cast on the Scottish Government's commitment to a tram-train hybrid at Glasgow Airport as documents reveal there has been virtually no work done on a promised feasibility study.

In the three and a half months since Transport Secretary Keith Brown announced that a light rail connection was the preferred option, transport officials have held just two meetings.

No money has been spent researching a tram-train link and no discussions have taken place with key bodies such as Network Rail and ScotRail, external experts or with either of the affected local authorities - Glasgow City Council and Renfrewshire Council.

But Transport Scotland insists its feasibility study will be completed by the end of August.

Councillor Alistair Watson, executive member for Land & Environmental Services at Glasgow City Council, said: "This utter lack of activity shows the Government is determined to block, and undermine, attempts to create a rail link to the airport."

In February, Mr Brown told parliament that independent consultants jointly commissioned by Transport Scotland and Glasgow Airport to draw up a shortlist of public transport options for the airport had recommended a tram-train link, with an estimated cost to taxpayers of £97 million. At the time he said he had instructed officials to "carry out further work on how this might be delivered".

The scheme would see a tram running from the terminal building to Paisley, where it would join the existing rail network.

But a Freedom of Information request reveals that since spending more than £26,000 on Aecom's report, Transport Scotland "has not spent any further money to date on investigating the delivery of a tram-train link". There have only been two meetings - on May 27 between Martin McKinlay, head of rail technical services for Transport Scotland, Fiona Docherty, the agency's senior transport planner, and Alison Irvine, its head of technical analysis. On May 28, Ms Docherty and Ms Irvine met with Ross Nimmo, Glasgow Airport's planning manager.

A spokesman for Glasgow Airport said: "Early discussions have been fruitful and Transport Scotland is carrying out a feasibility study. We await its conclusion with interest."

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: "Any integration of light rail with conventional rail services presents a number of challenges and a study looking at the feasibility of the tram-train is under way which is expected to be completed by the end of August."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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