28 March 2008

Gearing up for Glasgow Airport Rail Link construction

The Minister for Transport has announced the next stage of delivering the landmark Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) will be taken forward by Transport Scotland, the national transport agency.

Stewart Stevenson has agreed the transfer of delivery powers to Transport Scotland. The agency’s main partners in the project – Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Network Rail and Glasgow Airport Ltd – have agreed that this is an appropriate point in the programme to transfer responsibilities as the development stage has now been completed.

As the current Authorised Undertaker, SPT has already successfully guided the project through the Scottish Parliament and carried out the crucial early stages of design development, land acquisition and advanced works. SPT will continue to support the project through the transition.

In June last year, the Minister announced the decision to combine the project with the Paisley Corridor resignalling work (PCR), funded and delivered by Network Rail. This was to remove the potential for passenger disruption and increased cost had the two projects been delivered separately.

Mr Stevenson said:

"This represents the right way forward for GARL, a nationally significant project vital for the local and wider Scottish economy, especially in capturing the long term benefits which will flow from the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

"The hard work SPT has put in to get us to this stage should not be underestimated and I thank them for successfully carrying out the initial phases of this crucial project.

"As with all infrastructure projects funded from the public purse, the overriding objective must always be to deliver as effectively and as efficiently as possible.

"We have already taken steps to achieve this by combining the GARL work with Network Rail’s signalling project and I am delighted the project partners have agreed this important next step. This will make best use of available expertise and ensure the project management is as robust as possible."

Ron Culley SPT Chief Executive, said:

"Getting the creation of a rail link to Glasgow Airport from a concept to the detailed design stage of an approved project, is a significant achievement.

"It completes the essential first stages of a vision that SPT has had for a crucial airport rail link. It also fulfils our obligations under the GARL Act.

"GARL is now ready to be built, so the time is right for Scotland’s national transport agency to take it forward through the implementation stage."

Ron McAulay, Network Rail Director, Scotland commented:

"Our focus will continue to be on delivering the modernisation work required in the Paisley Corridor and enhancing the existing railway to accommodate the Glasgow Airport Rail Link on completion of the project.

"The route requires considerable enhancements, including new track and signalling as well as a new platform at Glasgow Central station.

"We look forward to our continued collaboration with Transport Scotland in delivering this vital new rail link for Glasgow and Scotland as a whole."

Glasgow Airport managing director Gordon Dewar said:

"The airport rail link is one of the most important infrastructure projects of the new century and comes at a crucial time in the development of the city and wider region. We are grateful to SPT for the important role they have played in progressing this ambitious project. BAA is pleased to play its part in the delivery of this flagship development and looks forward to working with Transport Scotland and our other partners on the next phase of the rail link."

The principal funding is from the Scottish Government through Transport Scotland, with additional contributions from Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, Glasgow Airport Limited and the European Union.

Overall costs are currently being reviewed given that the scope of the new, combined project has changed but it is expected the change will produce efficiency savings overall through avoidance of duplicated work.

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link will link the airport with Glasgow’s central business district and provide air travellers with direct access to the rail network. It will provide a high quality passenger experience from the moment that passengers exit the airport terminal building, via the link structure that Glasgow Airport Limited will build to connect their terminal building to the new airport station, to the moment that passengers arrive at Glasgow Central.

It is estimated GARL will create 675 to 700 jobs in Paisley town centre within 3 to 4 years and 650 jobs in Glasgow and Renfrewshire with some £84 million in economic benefits created in Renfrewshire alone.

The new third track will provide extra capacity to Inverclyde and Ayrshire and create an additional four trains per hour between Glasgow and Paisley. The main construction work on the existing railway and the new branchline structures is currently forecast to commence in early 2009.

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