CONSTRUCTION of a rail link at Glasgow Airport should be fast-tracked to offset the economic uncertainty of the Brexit vote, according to council leaders who are calling on the Transport Minister to give the project his "full backing".

The leaders of Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils will urge Humza Yousef to accelerate City Deal-funded infrastructure schemes such as the proposed airport link at a meeting next month to counterbalance the fallout from the EU vote.

It is estimated that projects associated with the City Deal will boast the region's economy by £2.2 billion and generate 15,000 construction jobs.

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Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said: "A commitment from the Minister to fast-track this vital project will support and drive growth by improving our connections, providing much needed employment opportunities and demonstrating that Scotland is open for business.

“We will be seeking assurances from the Transport Minister that the Glasgow Airport Access Project has his backing and the full backing of his agency Transport Scotland.”

It echoes calls from Neil Amner, president of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, to use Brexit as a "catalyst" for increased and more innovative infrastructure investment.

Frank McAveety, leader of Glasgow City Council, added: “It’s clear from what we’re being told about Brexit that accelerating City Deal projects could play a significant role in dealing with any fallout from the decision to leave the EU.

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“We’ll be looking for the full support of the Scottish Government to speed up delivery of the rail link between Glasgow city centre and Glasgow Airport.”

The Scottish and UK Governments have each committed £500 million to the £1.13bn Glasgow City Region City Deal, which includes £144 million for the Glasgow Airport Access Project (GAAP).

The favoured scheme is a tram-train hybrid combining a newly-constructed light rail line between the airport terminal and Paisley Gilmour Street, where trams would join the national heavy rail network and continue direct to Glasgow Central.

Personal Rapid Transit "pods" - similar to those at Heathrow - are also being considered, but these would terminate at Paisley requiring passengers to disembark and catch a separate onward train.

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A business case on the preferred scheme is expected in December.

However, the SNP Government has previously faced criticism from the Labour-run councils for highlighting the "risks and uncertainties" of a new airport link development, having axed the previous GARL project in 2009 amid spiralling costs.

A Transport Scotland-funded feasibility study in 2014 warned that there was "very little spare capacity" at Central to accommodate the trams and that running them during peak times would require "significant timetable alterations and extended journey times for other passengers".

Meanwhile, a Sheffield-Rotherham tram-train pilot - the first to trial the hybrid infrastructure in the UK - was halted for a second time in May after Network Rail encountered "significant" technical issues.

Mr Yousaf said: “We are committed to finding a solution to the well understood access problems at Glasgow Airport and would expect the business case is progressed in accordance with industry requirements.

"In the context of the continued challenging economic environment, it is really important that we work with all partners and explore all options to support the economy.

"We remain fully supportive of the Glasgow City Region Deal and are keen to see its success recognising that there are significant challenges to the delivery of any rail link to Glasgow Airport.”