FRESH doubt over plans for a rail link to Glasgow Airport has been raised after the Transport Secretary failed to give a commitment it would go ahead.

Michael Matheson was asked to give an assurance the Scottish Governmentis committed to the airport rail link and state when it will be completed.

The plans have been on hold, with no more cash spent on it, until concerns raised in a report about the impact on the wider rail network can be resolved.

A surface access project of light rail or tram/train from Glasgow Central was included in the £1.1bn Glasgow City Deal agreed in 2014.

But there are fears for the project following a report last year.

The rail link hit a snag when a report commissioned for Transport Scotland by rail engineering analysts Jacobs suggested there could be issues with capacity at Central Station and a knock on effect to services from Paisley and to and from Ayrshire stations.

The Gazette: The proposed Glasgow Airport rail link could be a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system that runs from a relocated Paisley St James station, if a scheme by Junction 29 (Scotland) Ltd is chosen as the preferred option

A redeveloped Paisley Gilmour Street has been suggested as a link 

It could mean a different option of a link between the airport and Paisley Gilmour Street, then connecting with the current services to Glasgow, instead of a dedicated rail link.

Johann Lamont, Glasgow Labour MSP, challenged the Transport Secretary in Holyrood over the delay.

She wanted a commitment that the government was fully supportive of the rail link and a date of expected completion.

The Gazette: Johann Lamont has called on the Scottish Government to introduce wellbeing assessments

Johann Lamont slammed the delay

She said: “The project has been delayed time and again.

“Despite numerous assessments being undertaken by Glasgow City Counciland the airport that demonstrate significant benefits to the wider economy of the west of Scotland, the project is once again at risk.

“Meanwhile, recent reports show that increasing levels of congestion on the motorway network are increasing journey times to and from the airport.”

Ms Lamont said the congestion report was even more proof a rail link was needed.

She added: “Does the cabinet secretary acknowledge the significant economic benefits that Glasgow airport brings and that the case for a direct rail link between Glasgow city centre and the airport grows stronger every year?

“Will he provide assurances that Transport Scotland and other agencies will work together and will he now commit to the project and tell us when he hopes it could be completed?”

Mr Matheson said the responsibility for economic assessments was for Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils who are leading the project through the City Deal.

He said was supportive of improving access to the airport but the issues raised in the Jacobs report had to be dealt with for a rail project to go ahead.

He added: “I recognise the important role that Glasgow airport has in the region and in the nation’s economy as a whole.

“It is in all our interests to improve connectivity between Glasgow city centre and Glasgow airport. “Work is being taken forward to look at the outline business case and carry out a further assessment of capacity on the existing Paisley corridor line.”

He said it will be discussed at a meeting with the project executives from both councils and the airport.

The Gazette: Justice Secretary Michael Matheson revealed the move

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson 

He added: “We will consider how we can make further progress on improving access to and providing greater connectivity with Glasgow airport.”

“Those issues need to be addressed in looking at the possibility of the rail option. At the next meeting of the Glasgow airport access executive steering group, which I will chair and which includes the leaders of Glasgow City Council and Renfrewshire Council along with other business partners that have an interest in the matter." 

This was originally reported in our sister title, The Evening Times.