Glasgow hospital Fastlink busway delayed again

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THE Fastlink busway to the South Glasgow University hospitals site will not be ready in time for its opening in June, The Scotsman has learned.

The delay to the major new transport link to Scotland’s largest hospital complex is the latest setback for the project between Glasgow city centre and Govan.

The £40 million scheme was originally due to have opened in time for last year’s Commonwealth Games.

Official reports show work on the 3.5-mile route will not be finished in time for the transfer of staff and patients to the new hospital site.

The complex, which will also be one of Europe’s biggest with 10,000 staff, will replace the Western Infirmary, Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Victoria Infirmary.

Fastlink buses will run from Central Station, Queen Street Station and Buchanan Bus Station on dedicated lanes, some segregated from traffic.

They will operate along the north bank of the Clyde, west from the city centre, then across the Clyde Arc (“Squinty Bridge”) and then on Govan Road past the Glasgow Science Centre to the hospitals.

A Glasgow City Council report revealed that a construction contract for almost the last mile of the route would not be completed until July.

A NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde report to be discussed next week also stated: “Not all aspects of the work have been progressed...in time for the opening of the new hospital”.

These include traffic changes in the city centre to give buses priority, and upgrading of the Govan bus-Subway interchange.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), which is jointly developing the scheme with Glasgow City Council, reported in December that it was due to be “delivered” by May.

However, an SPT report yesterday said this would now be in “summer 2015”.

The project is being funded by ministers, who pledged to back it when they scrapped the Glasgow Airport Rail Link in 2009.

The Royal College of Nursing will present a 7,000-name petition over transport concerns at the new hospitals to the health board on Tuesday.

Senior Greater Glasgow officer Anne Thomson said: “We have repeatedly raised concerns about parking and access to the new hospital in Glasgow.

“The fact the Fastlink project isn’t due to be complete until a month after services and staff have moved to the new site is a further difficulty, yet to be resolved.

“It’s going to be extremely difficult for many of our members to get to work on time as the public transport they need simply isn’t in place.”

Colin Howden, director of public transport campaigners Transform Scotland, said: “It’s about time Fastlink was completed. It’s been talked about now for almost a decade, yet it remains unfinished.

“Everyone knows that the Edinburgh tram scheme took over a decade to deliver, but this scheme is in danger of taking just as long.”

City council Green group co-convener Dr Nina Baker said: “For something that was meant to have been in use for last year’s Commonwealth Games, and wasn’t, and now apparently won’t be ready for the Southern General opening, this is indeed disappointing.

“I am not a great fan of the Fastlink principle, but as we have spent the past 30 years not getting the train/tram/light transit system the city needs, I guess we will have to hope it will be of some use, some time.”

A health board spokeswoman said: “We expect Fastlink to be operating within a short time of the hospitals opening.

“Fastlink is not the only transport solution. It is a further enhancement to existing public transport which already runs to the site.”

A city council spokeswoman said: “We are working towards a completion date of June.”