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Last Updated: Monday, 9 January 2006, 16:04 GMT
Airport rail link bid put forward
Cncllr Alistair Watson
SPT chairman Alistair Watson with the rail link bill
Plans for creating a rail link to Glasgow Airport have been submitted to the Scottish Parliament.

Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT) has put forward a draft private bill outlining the 140m link.

If the route, linking Shields Junction and Paisley, is given the go-ahead it could be running by the end of 2008.

A 60-day period for lodging objections begins once Holyrood officials have cleared a private bill for scrutiny by a special committee of MSPs.

SPT chairman Alistair Watson said the link was a "significant step closer" to becoming reality.

PROPOSED RAIL LINK
Upgrade 9km (5.4 miles) of existing track between Shields Junction and Paisley Gilmour Street
Lay 1.9km (1.2miles) of new track between Paisley St James Station and Glasgow Airport
The new track would cross St James Park and the M8

Councillor Watson said: "We are confident that we have produced a proposal that will deliver real economic, environmental and transport benefits to people living in the region.

"Over the past year-and-a-half we have been working closely with a variety of groups, ranging from representatives of local leagues that play football on St James Playing Fields to local residents in Paisley."

He also welcomed Renfrewshire Council's support for the airport rail link.

However, Councillor Watson told BBC Radio Scotland that the need for a private bill was outdated.

The system has been put in place to deal with applications from organisations, companies or individuals which usually relate to development projects, with the proposals scrutinised by special committees of MSPs.

Transport Minister Tavish Scott told Good Morning Scotland: "I absolutely agree with the comments that have been made this morning about the need to improve the system.

"I personally don't see why we can't treat rail as we do road and make sure that projects such as these are taken forward in that kind of manner which would allow proper parliamentary scrutiny both of budget and of the other details but simplify the process, quicken the process and make it much more efficient.

"We will introduce a bill later this year in parliament which will very much do exactly that."

Tavish Scott
These are very exciting developments across Scotland
Tavish Scott
Transport Minister

On the introduction of new rail links, Mr Scott said: "I genuinely think this is a great challenge to have in Scotland. South of the border they are closing rail lines, north of the border, we're opening new ones.

"We opened Larkhall-Milngavie before Christmas, the bill to introduce the Glasgow Airport link will come into parliament this week.

"These are very exciting developments across Scotland. New rail links and exciting developments for the whole rail network and we're encouraging people to have those choices in transport so they can leave the car at home and use public transport."

A formal consultation took place early last year and SPT pledged to continue consulting with businesses, local people and other affected groups throughout the passage of the bill in parliament.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: "It is important to note that a bill has not as yet been introduced.

'Legislative competence'

"The parliament's clerks today received a draft version of the bill along with its accompanying documents, but the process of ensuring that the bill is legislatively competent and that the accompanying documents conform with standing orders will take no less than three weeks.

"Once the presiding officer is satisfied that the bill is within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, the promoter will formally be able to introduce it to parliament."

Welcoming the development, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dr Lesley Sawers said: "This essential piece of infrastructure will safeguard jobs, grow the economy of the region and boost the importance of Glasgow Airport within the Scottish economy."

Scottish Tory transport spokesman David Davidson said: "We are supportive of this measure in principle and agree that a simplified but open system of rail planning should be developed."

Later this month a private bill on plans for a 500m Edinburgh airport link involving a tunnel will be submitted.

It is hardly a trade secret that Labour MSPs with whom the Lib Dems share power are reluctant if not downright hostile to proposals to reopen the Borders line
Christine Grahame
SNP MSP

Pressure group Transform Scotland said there were cheaper alternatives and that the money saved could be invested in other public transport projects.

Scottish National Party MSP Christine Grahame voiced concerns about the future of the planned Borders rail link.

The South of Scotland MSP said: "I think it was interesting today that the Lib Dem Transport Minister Tavish Scott remained pointedly silent over the proposals for Borders rail, despite making reference to the Edinburgh air/rail link and also the recently opened Larkhall to Milngavie line.

"It is hardly a trade secret that Labour MSPs with whom the Lib Dems share power are reluctant if not downright hostile to proposals to reopen the Borders line.

"It's hardly a secret either that the finances available to Scottish ministers under devolution are limited so we will have to see which one of the coalition 'partners' blinks first."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear Transport Minister Tavish Scott on the proposals



SEE ALSO:
Transport agency gets on track
09 Jan 06 |  Scotland
Rail project on the right track
05 Oct 05 |  Scotland
'Jobs boost' from air rail link
21 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Chance to have a say on rail link
01 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Favoured air-rail links revealed
12 Mar 03 |  Scotland
Airport rail link pledge
08 Jan 03 |  Scotland


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