Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 12:42 UK

Swinney: No 'anti-Glasgow agenda'

Artists impression of GARL
The rail link would have created up to 1,300 jobs

The Scottish Government has denied that its decision to axe the Glasgow Airport Rail Link was motivated by "a clear anti-Glasgow agenda".

Finance Secretary John Swinney said the city received the "highest per-person funding" of any Scottish council area.

His remarks followed a furious reaction to the rail link decision from Glasgow City Council leader, Steven Purcell.

He said ministers spent billions in the east and north east while "giving Glasgow the crumbs off the table".

Mr Swinney announced his decision to scrap the airport rail link while announcing his £35bn budget plans for the year ahead.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, he defended the government from charges of an "anti-Glasgow agenda".

"When you look at the spending record of this government, you will see that Glasgow comes out extremely well," he said.

"Glasgow commands the highest level of per-person funding from the Scottish Government in local authority spending, in any mainland local authority."

Mr Swinney also said he had explained the rail link decision to Commonwealth Games officials.

Artists imperssion of Fastlink
The Fastlink project aims to provide a "rapid transit" bus network

A rail link connecting the airport and city centre was one of the arguments deployed by ministers in their successful pitch to attract the 2014 games to Glasgow.

"We have explained to the Commonwealth Games Federation why in the current public expenditure circumstances we have got to take some tough decisions," he said.

"What we have also explained to the Commonwealth Games Federation is that we are fulfilling all the commitments to complete the M74, to put in place the Fastlink initiative which will greatly assist connections within the city of Glasgow."

"I think the commitment we have given to the Commonwealth Games Federation is very clear and very significant.

"I think it's more than adequate to fulfil the commitments we have given about the improvement to transport connections."


The rail link was a key part of the Commonwealth Games bid

The Glasgow Fastlink aims to provide a "rapid transit" bus network in the west of Scotland, centred on Glasgow.

Phase one of the project would see links between Glasgow Central station and the SECC, with Phase two extending beyond this to Glasgow Harbour.

A third option would explore the potential for a route to the east end serving the Commonwealth Games.

The Glasgow Airport Rail link involved plans to upgrade five-and-a-half miles of track and lay one mile of track between Paisley St James Station and Glasgow Airport.

A spur would then have been built from Paisley to Glasgow Airport.

The planned rail link would have seen four trains run between Glasgow and the airport every hour, with a stop in Paisley.

The project was due to be completed in two stages in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Scottish ministers had said it would have generated 1,300 jobs in total.

It is estimated that by shelving the plans, the Scottish Government will have saved up to £200m.

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