A TRAM link to Glasgow airport would carry as many people as a train line at half the cost, according to a study published today.
The tram connection would cost £92 million compared to £207m for a rail route similar to the axed Glasgow Airport Rail Link (Garl), it found.
Both would increase public transport travel to the airport by 3 to 4 percentage points over the next 20 years.
The Glasgow Airport Strategic Transport Appraisal also showed a possible tram route, branching off the Paisley-Gourock rail line west of the airport and hugging the south side of the M8 before turning north to reach the terminal.
The tram route would appear to require less land than Garl and also avoid the airport’s fuel depot, whose relocation would have increased the rail link’s costs.
This would be achieved by trams being more nimble than trains and able to turn tighter corners.
The report said: “A potential route alongside the M8 may also minimise visual and landscape impacts.”
However, the scheme would depend on trams running on rail lines into Glasgow city centre, which has yet to be tested and approved in Britain.
The report warned: “The technology is currently relatively new to the UK, and therefore carries a technical risk.”
It added that there might not be space on the rail network for trams at peak times.
Ministers last month agreed to consider the tram scheme, five years after scrapping Garl. Labour accused them of a U-turn.
The report, by consultants Aecom for the airport, Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils and the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, was to find ways of cutting increasing road congestion and take more airport travellers out of cars.
Commenting on the publication of the report into potential public transport links to Glasgow airport, which originally included a rail link similar to GARL, Scottish Labour’s infrastructure spokesman James Kelly said:
“It was disgraceful that the transport minister Keith Brown and Transport Scotland delayed the publication of this report by a year because the expert group AECOM included the option of a rail link similar to GARL which they didn’t want to hear.
“We know now that a rail link is still considered a viable option by the experts but what we don’t know is how much influence Keith Brown and Transport Scotland have had in altering the conclusions of this report.
“However, regardless of expert opinion, the opportunity to provide Glasgow airport with a dedicated rail link has already been squandered by the SNP who made the ludicrous decision to sell off the land required at knockdown prices to the detriment of the public purse.
“GARL was a viable and valuable project which would have brought 1,300 jobs to the area and £300million to the local economy and was supported by the business community. It’s imperative now that the other options within the study are given proper consideration and the most viable options are duly implemented to allow Glasgow aiport the chance to continie to be competitive and to grow its business.”