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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 March 2007, 18:10 GMT
MSPs back new airport rail link
Edinburgh Airport
The Edinburgh Airport Rail Link is opposed by the SNP
MSPs have approved the construction of a 610m rail link to Edinburgh Airport.

The new line will connect an underground station at the airport to the rest of the country's rail network.

The SNP and the Greens opposed the scheme claiming that the cash for the project could be better spent on other transport projects.

Transport Minister Tavish Scott said the rail link should be completed without delay and would benefit the whole Scottish economy.

Mr Scott said: "The Edinburgh Airport Rail Link (EARL) will simply make Scotland a more attractive place to visit and do business.

"To oppose, prevaricate or dither is not an option. This government will not. We will act and deliver this project."

The money can be better spent on other projects
Fergus Ewing
SNP transport spokesman

The Conservatives backed the project but the SNP said the cost of the line, an underground station and two tunnels under the runway was prohibitive.

They said the money should be spent on road repairs and improving the rail network across the country.

Fergus Ewing, SNP transport spokesman, said: "The money can be better spent on other projects.

"We urgently require to improve our rail and road systems in Scotland."

Tory transport committee member David McLetchie, said: "I remain sceptical as to the justification for both the rail link to Edinburgh airport and a tram line to Edinburgh Airport, given the excellent bus service already operating."

New track

He said this "duplication of service" was an area of the tram project where spending could be pruned.

The Greens also said they were unconvinced that the rail line, which will cost three times what it is expected to cost to build a similar link to Glasgow Airport, was value for money.

Despite the misgivings, MSPs backed the project by 86 votes to 29.

Construction will begin next year and the new rail link to Edinburgh Airport will open in 2011.

It will take nine miles of new track to link Edinburgh Airport with the rest of Scotland's rail network.

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