Trams could return to ease pressure to city's main stations

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TRAMS could return to the streets of Glasgow under plans to relieve growth pressure at the two main railway stations.

The proposal by the Scottish Executive's transport agency comes as plans were announced for the biggest shake-up in west coast ferry services for decades.

Transport Scotland said some of Glasgow's suburban rail lines could be converted to carry trams, which would run into the city centre on roads to free space at Central and Queen Street stations for more longer-distance trains.

The Cathcart circle line, which runs between Central station and the southside of the city, is seen as a prime candidate.

"The agency said the scheme would be considered for 2014-20 if studies showed there was a strong case.

Glasgow was the last UK city to have trams - until 1962. London and four other English cities have reintroduced trams, and Edinburgh is due to join them in 2011, but a proposed line in Glasgow was rejected a decade ago.

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: "Trams are a potential solution to capacity bottlenecks and on lines where stations are close together, such as on the Cathcart circle."

Glasgow City Council agreed the tram move could enable passenger growth at the main stations, and said disused tunnels and track beds should also be considered. However, Passenger Focus, the official rail watchdog, said connections must be maintained for people changing trains to other destinations.

The Executive has also proposed a wholesale overhaul of the Caledonian MacBrayne route network after the tendering process, forced by European laws, is completed next year.

Its new national transport strategy, published this week, said there would be a "comprehensive review of lifeline ferry services to develop a long-term strategy to 2025". Changes would be made for the second tender period, following the first five-year contract to 2012.