Personal Rapid Transit option unveiled for proposed Glasgow Airport rail link

Artist's impression of the station Junction 29 station
Artist’s impression of the station Junction 29 station

Plans have been unveiled for a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system which would take travellers from a new station in Paisley to Glasgow Airport if a scheme by Junction 29 (Scotland) Ltd is chosen as the preferred option for a new airport rail link.

The PRT system, which would run from a relocated Paisley St James station, is one of the two options being considered by the Glasgow and Clyde Valley Cabinet for the proposed Glasgow Airport Rail Link.

The rival tram-train option, which would involve carriages running from Glasgow Central to the airport via Paisley, is estimated to cost £144 million and would offer a 16.5 minute direct journey from Glasgow city centre to the airport, with an estimated completion date of 2025.

Using the existing main rail line which goes through Paisley Gilmour Street station, PRT’s backers said their alternative option offers a reduced cost, faster journey times, a quicker completion speed and would cause less disruption.

Junction 29 (Scotland) Ltd said its plan would cost £70-£80m to deliver over 12 months and would be built alongside the existing network. It also claims that a 1.1 mile journey from the airport would take just four minutes.

A diagram showing where the PRT route would go
A diagram showing where the PRT route would go

Junction 29 (Scotland) Ltd owns a 40-acre site next to Glasgow Airport at Junction 29 of the M8. The site is large enough to provide a park and ride at this new station plus additional land for a mixed-use development. The PRT option uses proven technology and features small automated vehicles, which can be different sizes, operating on a network of specially built lightweight guideways.

Paul Kelly, managing director of Junction 29 Ltd, said: “The PRT option offers reduced costs, a faster journey time, can be delivered within 12 months and would significantly ease congestion on the M8 corridor between the airport and the city centre. Our PRT solution is very similar to what is already in place at London Heathrow Terminal 5, which is very reliable and has high levels of customer satisfaction.

“Passengers would travel on the Glasgow Central - Gourock/Wemyss Bay line and disembark at a relocated Paisley St James station. They would then join the PRT system and four minutes later, arrive at the airport.”

The proposed Junction 29 site as it stands
The proposed Junction 29 site as it stands

Mark Chestney, head of rail at Heathrow Airport, said: “The proposed PRT system for Glasgow Airport is very similar to the system at Heathrow Terminal 5 which went into full service in May 2011, taking passengers on the five-minute journey between the terminal and a 1275 space car park. Since the service began, the system has carried around two million passengers, has an excellent safety record and availability has been approximately 99.5 per cent.

“The system has removed 70,000 annual bus journeys from the busy Heathrow road system, saving over 100 tonnes of C02 emissions every year. The PRT system is also quiet, comfortable, on demand, and one of the most popular systems for passengers around the airport.”

Tom Johnston, chairman of Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, added: “Improved surface access to and from Glasgow Airport is vital not only for the continued success of the airport but for Renfrewshire’s economy. In my opinion, a rail link would deliver significant benefits for Renfrewshire, which would give the area’s businesses a fantastic boost and could potentially bring more jobs to the area. Renfrewshire is expanding both commercially and residentially, so improved access and connectivity is vital. Anything that will reduce traffic on the M8 corridor would be welcome.”

The proposed Glasgow Airport rail link is the flagship project of the Glasgow City Region City Deal.

A decision on which becomes the preferred option for the proposed Glasgow Airport rail link will be made by Glasgow and Clyde Valley Cabinet in December.

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