Council leaders have formally backed plans to build a direct rail link between Glasgow Airport, Paisley and Glasgow city centre.
The £144 million Glasgow Airport Access Project is the flagship project for the £1.13 billion Glasgow City Region City Deal.
Plans unveiled last month showed journeys to and from the airport would be transformed as a state-of-the-art system carries passengers on specially designed tram-trains using both the existing railway network and a new light rail spur from Paisley to the airport.
Councillor Mark Macmillan, leader of Renfrewshire Council and Glasgow City Region Cabinet lead for enterprise, said: “With the approval of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet we have taken another step towards getting this crucial direct rail link in place.
“This project is simply vital to securing the long-term success of the local and regional economies. Glasgow Airport supports more than 7,300 jobs – 4,300 of which are in Renfrewshire – and improved transport connections will open up the city region to tourism and businesses, generate inward investment and create jobs for local people.
“The direct rail link will help increase annual passenger numbers from nine to 13 million by 2030. It will also enhance the benefits of our other City Deal projects, which are designed to unlock our economic potential, creating a world class business and commercial location with excellent links across the Clyde and into our town and city centres.”
Glasgow Airport injects around £170m to the Glasgow City Region economy every year and businesses have backed the project as essential to ensuring it remains competitive in the years ahead.
The Glasgow Airport Access Project was endorsed by the Cabinet after being approved by both Renfrewshire and Glasgow City councils in previous weeks. Construction of the direct rail link is due to begin in 2022 and the system will be operational three years later.
The tram-train model was chosen as the preferred option after an appraisal established it offered the greatest opportunity of encouraging people to travel to and from the airport via public transport.
It would reduce the required time for all trips travelling through Glasgow City Centre and Paisley Gilmour Street to the airport by providing a direct link with no changes required.
Glasgow Airport’s head of planning and development, Ross Nimmo, is fully behind the plans for tram-trains to provide the direct rail link.
He said of the project: “It has a very strong business case, with conservative estimates suggesting the airport is set to become one of the busiest train stations in Scotland.
“This is great news for travellers, and whether they choose the train, the bus or the car, Glasgow Airport will be easier to get to than ever before.”
The news comes as the Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet approved £15.6 million of funding to prepare a full business case for making £115.5m worth of improvements to Glasgow’s city centre.
Those involved say Glasgow is the UK’s second most important centre in retail in finance after London’s West End and the City, with more than 150,000 jobs and over 40,000 students – not to mention 100,000 commuters travelling in on weekdays.
Glasgow City Council’s City Centre Strategy aims to increase Glasgow’s prominent position by improving infrastructure.
If the plan goes ahead, that will mean resurfacing the streets and pavements in places like Argyle Street, Cathedral Street, George Street, Central Station, King Street, North Hanover Street, Sauchiehall Street and West Nile Street.
It could also mean creating avenues of trees, segregated cycle lanes, underground facilities and a reduction in traffic through the city centre.
Councillor Frank McAveety, chair of the Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet, said: “Glasgow city centre is the number one area of economic activity not only in Glasgow, but in the wider city region and indeed Scotland, so its future development is hugely important. Through this investment in developing the infrastructure of the city centre, this project will help to deliver the strategy for the area by improving connectivity to and between city centre districts, supporting development and economic growth, and improving and protecting the built environment.”