Airport rail link gathers speed
PLANS for a new railway linking Edinburgh Airport to the rest of Scotland moved a step closer today as the legal process to build the project got under way.
The 650 million scheme, which is due to be completed by 2011, will allow passengers and airport users to travel on trains to and from the city centre, as well as to other destinations such as Glasgow and Aberdeen.
The proposals include the construction of a railway station at the airport's main terminal, with trains arriving and departing via a tunnel under the runway.
Transport chiefs would save around 200m if trains ran above ground, with a station at nearby Turnhouse, prompting anger from environmentalists who see the project as too expensive. Politicians and lobby groups have also voiced concerns that journey times on the flagship Edinburgh-to-Glasgow route will be longer because of the extra stop.
The Private Bill that will enable the construction of the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (EARL) was made public at around 11am this morning, following its introduction yesterday to the Scottish Parliament.
Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE), the council-owned firm responsible for the Capital's proposed tram network, is behind the airport plans.
Chief executive Michael Howell said: "This scheme will have a significant and positive impact on the way people move around the country, and offers an exciting opportunity to transform rail travel in Scotland.
"EARL will be part of a world-class transport hub at Edinburgh Airport, facilitating quick and efficient rail travel to and from Edinburgh Airport from across the nation."
The rail link will allow 40 per cent of airport users to leave their cars behind and access the airport via public transport, and TIE estimates 4.4 million passengers will use EARL by 2026. The cost of travelling from the city centre to Edinburgh Airport by train will be 7.50 return.
Project director Susan Clark said: "The EARL Bill was the first Private Bill to be published in draft prior to its introduction to the Scottish Parliament. This has allowed us to consult with all stakeholders at an unprecedented level, allowing us to present MSPs with a well-planned and comprehensive proposal that incorporates a wide range of public views."
Transport Minister Tavish Scott added: "This is a project of major national significance, benefiting businesses and passengers across Scotland, as well as the city of Edinburgh."
The Bill includes a preferred route for the trains, with new lines linking to existing tracks to Fife and Glasgow.
The Green Party said the huge amount of cash being spent on the project should instead be used to build three tram lines in the city.
Lothians MSP Mark Ballard said: "The argument for the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link is based on a trebling of the number of passengers using air transport, which is environmentally unsustainable."
Colin Howden, director of lobby group TRANSform Scotland added: "The current proposal for the Edinburgh Airport Rail Link is poor value for money and should be scrapped. Rail access to Edinburgh Airport could be provided more swiftly and at a considerably lower price tag."
SNP transport spokesman Fergus Ewing questioned plans to serve the airport with Edinburgh-bound trains from Glasgow and the north.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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