Glasgow Airport injects around £170 million to the Glasgow City Region economy every year and businesses have backed the project as essential to ensuring it remains competitive in the years ahead.
According to council leaders, the £144m Glasgow Airport Access Project, which is the flagship project for the £1.13 billion Glasgow City Region City deal, will strengthen the city region’s link to the world, positioning it as an attractive place to do business and helping to create jobs within the area.
Journeys to and from the airport would be transformed as a state-of-the-art system would carry passengers on specially designed tram-trains using both the existing railway network and on-street tracks.
Renfrewshire Council leader, Mark Macmillan, enthuses: “This is a vital transport development that will bring huge benefits to Renfrewshire and the rest of the Glasgow City Region.
"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 9 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.
"It will also enhance the benefits of our other City Deal projects, which are designed to unlock our economic potential, creating a world class business and commercial location with excellent links across the Clyde and into our town and city centres.”
The plans are set to be endorsed by the Glasgow City Region Cabinet in December after being discussed by Renfrewshire and Glasgow City councils in the coming weeks.
If approved the system would be operational by 2025, with construction due to begin three years earlier.
Councillor Frank McAveety, leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet, says: “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.”
The project is seen as a key aspect of the Glasgow City Region achieving its stated outcomes for the duration of the City Deal programme. Among those aims is the generation of around £3.3bn of private sector investment, spreading the benefits of economic growth across the Glasgow City Region and ensuring deprived areas benefit.
Ross Nimmo, head of planning and development for Glasgow Airport, remarks: “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.”
A survey of businesses in the Glasgow City Region conducted earlier this year revealed three quarters of respondents view Glasgow Airport as either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to their operations.