A “tram-train” system has been chosen as the preferred option for a long-awaited rail link between Glasgow city centre and the airport.
The link, which could be operational by 2025, would see carriages run on existing rail tracks between Glasgow Central station and Paisley Gilmour Street, before moving on to on-street tram tracks running to the front of the main airport terminal.
It would offer a 16.5-minute direct journey between the city centre and the front door of the airport, developers say.
Plans for the £144 million link have been drawn up jointly by Renfrewshire Council and Glasgow City Council and would be funded from the £1.13 billion Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal – an agreement between the UK Government, the Scottish Government and eight local authorities across the region.
The proposals will now be discussed by councillors in Renfrewshire and Glasgow before they go for approval by the Glasgow City Region Cabinet – made up of the leaders of both councils – in December.
Construction work would start in 2022.
Glasgow City Council leader Frank McAveety, who is also chair of the Cabinet, said: “We’ve long argued that a new rail link between the airport and the city centre is essential for the thousands of tourists and business travellers who fly into and out of Glasgow every day.
“The airport already supports thousands of jobs but this new rail link, which is the single biggest element of our City Deal, will be the catalyst that takes us to a new level, vastly improving the customer experience and generating even more jobs and inward investment.
“This announcement represents a significant milestone in the journey we’ve been on for many years. We are committed to delivering this tram-train link and, best of all, the money to pay for it is already in the bank.”
Previous proposals for a rail link between the city and airport were scrapped in 2009 amid public spending cuts.
Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan described the link as “vital”.
He added: “Glasgow Airport is key to the success of our local and regional economies.
“It supports more than 7,300 jobs – 4,300 of which are in Renfrewshire – and this project will help increase annual passenger numbers from nine to 13 million by 2030.
“Improved transport connections will support the growth of the airport and open up the area to tourism and businesses, bringing inward investment and creating jobs for local people.”
The proposals would see up to four tram-trains per hour running in each direction.
Developers say an interchange point at Paisley Gilmour Street would allow passengers from Ayrshire and Inverclyde train lines to access the service as well.
Ross Nimmo, head of planning and development for Glasgow Airport, said: “We welcome the identification of tram-train as the preferred option. Not only is it a significant milestone in the Glasgow Airport access project, it is the culmination of rigorous planning over several years.
“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.”