PLANS for a city region-wide Glasgow Metro tram network are moving forward with a link between the airport and Paisley as the first phase.

Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils have agreed funding for the airport link and a feasibility study is to be carried out to extend it eastwards into Glasgow.

Scottish Government approval for it to be a national transport project is needed but consideration of a Metro has been included in the Programme for Government.

Both council leaderships are now in agreement and approval of the full councils will be sought for what will be the biggest public transport project in the city for decades.

The Connectivity Commission, set up by the council, recommended a Glasgow Metro to create a city-wide tram network as part of its plan for a 21st century sustainable transport system for Glasgow.

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The plan is for the line from the airport to Paisley Gilmour Street Station to be built and then extended to the city centre via the new National Manufacturing Institute, Renfrew town centre, Braehead and the Queen Elizabeth Hospitals before crossing the River Clyde.

Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council said the case for a Metro is “compelling”.

She will give an update on the plans at the State of the City Economy conference this week on Friday in Glasgow.

Ms Aitken, said: “It’s less than a year since the expert Connectivity Commission proposed a Glasgow Metro but already our ambitions are making considerable progress. 

“The Scottish Government has pledged to work with us on the Commission’s recommendations, while Glasgow and Renfrewshire Councils will undertake the feasibility work required to ensure it can be considered as a key, national project. Funding is already in place to deliver a first phase, linking Paisley with Glasgow Airport. 

She said it made sense for the airport link to be the first phase in a city wide network.

Ms Aitken added: “We need to improve how our people get around if Glasgow is to build on its potential as a global city. For these reasons and more, the case for a Glasgow Metro is compelling.”

A section of the Scottish Government’s current Programme for Government states: “We are committed to working with partners to consider the Commission’s recommendations, and as part of the second Strategic Transport Projects Review, we will consider the potential for a Glasgow Metro, which builds on the planned City Region Deal investment to link Glasgow Airport and the new National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland to Paisley Gilmour Street.”

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The council is working with Renfrewshire to deliver the airport link as part of the £1.1bn City Deal.

It is hoped the Metro plan will finally provide a solution to the lack of an alternative to the M8 for accessing the airport.

It will replace previous plans for shuttle link between the airport and Paisley which were mooted as a replacement for a tram/train link between the airport and the city centre.

Mark Johnston, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: “The city’s Metro proposals are compelling and demonstrate real ambition to deliver a much needed, sustainable transport system. 

“In particular, we welcome the commitment to deliver the airport corridor first and the Scottish Government’s support for the project. 

“This will have a transformative effect on the major employment sites along this route, alleviating congestion, reducing emissions and boosting public transport use.”

Renfrewshire Council said passengers and staff at the airport would benefit from a new public transport link.

A spokeswoman for Renfrewshire Council, said: “A public transport link from Paisley Gilmour Street to Glasgow Airport is critical to improving sustainable travel choices and will make a significant impact on improved journey times and connections for business and for airport users and employees, reducing the impact of traffic on the M8 at a key corridor and supporting the thousands of new jobs that will be delivered next to the airport at the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland. 

“Subject to approval by elected members and the City Region Cabinet, we will work closely with Glasgow City Council and Transport Scotland in progressing these proposals.”

Business leaders in Glasgow have been calling for a viable link to the airport for decades.

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick said it must go beyond Paisley to bring as much economic benefit as possible.

He said: “We warmly welcome proposals for a Glasgow Metro system and improved rail access to Glasgow Airport. These are vitally important to improve capacity on our public transport system, reduce congestion on our motorways and improve connectivity. Without such a link it would be a challenge for the Airport to grow sustainably.

“But while we are open to a light rail connection between Paisley Gilmour Street and Glasgow Airport as the first stage of a Metro connection into the city centre, other stages must quickly follow linking to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and to the growing Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) at Inchinnan.

“We now look forward to Transport Scotland giving its support to the Glasgow Metro project.”