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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 September 2007, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
Edinburgh air rail link dropped
Passenger boarding a train
The government announced other rail improvements
Ambitious plans for an underground rail station at Edinburgh Airport have been scrapped, the government has announced.

Proposals for a new station on the Edinburgh-Fife line and a new loop on the Edinburgh-Glasgow line, which would be electrified, were instead outlined.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson told MSPs that the scheme would achieve intended goals more quickly and at a third of the original price.

However, the plans were attacked by Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The Scottish Government said the 650m Edinburgh Airport Rail Link, known as Earl, was costly and that the money could be better spent elsewhere.

The SNP ordered a luxury Lexus limo for their first minister - why are they delivering a Reliant Robin rail link for Scotland?
Iain Gray
Labour transport spokesman

Mr Stevenson told the Scottish Parliament there was no way for the current airport project to proceed and said the new plans set out an "ambitious, credible and deliverable alternative".

"We believe that our programme for investment in rail will provide a major boost to the wealth of Scotland and its long-term sustainability," he said.

"These are strong proposals for the future of Scotland."

The plan includes an airport station at Gogar on the Fife railway line, to allow easy access to the airport.

Former transport minister Tavish Scott said the Nationalists, along with their "cosy" Tory supporters, were seeking to kill off a strategic transport project.

"The SNP's solution is not the direct link that Scots, visitors and business want," Mr Scott said.

"A Gogar rail halt is not a direct airport rail link. And it is not the right solution."

'Gross incompetence'

Also claiming ministers had taken forward a poorer alternative, Labour transport spokesman Iain Gray said: "What this promises is an airport station which isn't at the airport."

Mr Gray said he had heard Earl described as a "Rolls Royce solution", adding: "The SNP ordered a luxury Lexus limo for their first minister - why are they delivering a Reliant Robin rail link for Scotland?"

Conservative transport spokesman Alex Johnstone welcomed the Earl alternative and attacked the previous Scottish administration for backing the original airport link.

"By arrogantly insisting on the most expensive scheme of all and crudely dismissing attempts by the Conservatives and others to suggest alternatives, the Lib-Lab pact stand accused of gross incompetence and an indecent disregard for the public finances," he said.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie welcomed the announcement, adding: "With all parties now talking the language of climate change, we must ensure that this amounts to more than platitudes."

Mr Stevenson said the government also intended to build a rail link between the Fife and Edinburgh - Glasgow routes, known as the "Dalmeny chord", allowing trains from Scotland's two largest cities to stop at the new airport station.

The savings from Earl, said the minister, would be invested in improving rail services, including a planned electrified rail network between Edinburgh and Glasgow and routes up to Dunblane, Alloa and Cumbernauld.

BBC's Stephen Low attempts to reach his flight on time

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