Council leaders today formally backed the plans to secure the Glasgow City Region's long term economic future by building a direct rail link between Glasgow Airport, Paisley and the city centre.
The £144m Glasgow Airport Access Project is the flagship project for the £1.13 billion Glasgow City Region City Deal. It will strengthen the city region's link to the world, positioning it as an attractive place to do business and helping to create jobs within the area.
Glasgow Airport injects around £170m to the Glasgow City Region economy every year and businesses have backed the project as essential to ensuring it remains competitive in the years ahead.
Plans unveiled last month showed journeys to and from the airport would be transformed as a state-of-the-art system carries passengers on specially designed tram-trains using both the existing railway network and a new light rail spur from Paisley to the airport.
Councillor Mark Macmillan, Leader of Renfrewshire Council and Glasgow City Region Cabinet Lead for Enterprise, said: "With the approval of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet we have taken another step towards getting this crucial direct rail link in place.
"This project is simply vital to securing the long-term success of the local and regional economies. Glasgow Airport supports more than 7,300 jobs - 4,300 of which are in Renfrewshire - and improved transport connections will open up the city region to tourism and businesses, generate inward investment and create jobs for local people.
"The direct rail link will help increase annual passenger numbers from nine to 13 million by 2030. It will also enhance the benefits of our other City Deal projects, which are designed to unlock our economic potential, creating a world class business and commercial location with excellent links across the Clyde and into our town and city centres."
Figures released by the Office of Rail and Road last week showed how important the railway connections are to passengers travelling in the area. They revealed Glasgow Central Station is the busiest in the UK outside of London, while Paisley Gilmour Street is the fourth busiest station in Scotland.
The Glasgow Airport Access Project was endorsed by the Cabinet after being approved by both Renfrewshire and Glasgow City councils in previous weeks. Construction of the direct rail link is due to begin in 2022 and the system will be operational three years later.
Councillor Frank McAveety, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Glasgow City Region Cabinet, said: "A direct rail link to Glasgow Airport has been an ambition for a long time, but it's now going to be a reality.
"It's the single biggest project in our City Deal and is of crucial importance to the economy of the whole Glasgow City Region.
"It will help us deliver more jobs, bring in more inward investment and vastly improve the customer experience."
The project is seen as a key aspect of the Glasgow City Region achieving its stated outcomes for the duration of the City Deal programme. Among those aims is the generation of around £3.3bn of private sector investment, spreading the benefits of economic growth across the Glasgow City Region and ensuring deprived areas benefit.
They also include creating around 29,000 jobs across the region, working with 19,000 unemployed residents and supporting more than 5,500 people back into sustained employment.
The tram-train model was chosen as the preferred option after an appraisal established it offered the greatest opportunity of encouraging people to travel to and from the airport via public transport.
It would reduce the required time for all trips travelling through Glasgow City Centre and Paisley Gilmour Street to the airport by providing a direct link with no changes required.
Glasgow Airport's head of planning and development, Ross Nimmo, is fully behind the plans for tram-trains to provide the direct rail link. He said of the project: "It has a very strong business case, with conservative estimates suggesting the airport is set to become one of the busiest train stations in Scotland.
"This is great news for travellers, and whether they choose the train, the bus or the car, Glasgow Airport will be easier to get to than ever before."
Both the UK and Scottish Governments will give the Glasgow City Region local authorities £500million each in grant funding for the City Deal, and the local authorities will borrow a further £130million to use for capital investment.
The Glasgow City Region City Deal is expected to give the region a permanent uplift in its GVA of £2.2billion per annum (4.4%); generate 15,000 construction jobs during the construction period and 28,000 permanent additional jobs once construction is complete. It will also unlock £3.3billion of private sector investment.
The eight local authorities participating in the Glasgow City Region are: East Dunbartonshire Council; East Renfrewshire Council; Glasgow City Council; Inverclyde Council; North Lanarkshire Council; Renfrewshire Council; South Lanarkshire Council and West Dunbartonshire Council.
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