Glasgow rail link row rumbles on as Gatwick intervenes

The row over a controversial decision by the SNP in Glasgow to scrap a planned rail link for Glasgow airport has left onlookers confused as politicians fight it out.

Gatwick airport has stepped in to clear up apparent confusion over its own rail link after an Evening Times column by council leader Susan Aitken compared the two minute journey between terminals to her own plans for a shuttle link to a train station in a different town.

Aitken said her column was a "dose of realism" about transport links and claimed Scottish Labour politicians were "so out of touch they think a shuttle link is something out of science fiction, though anyone who’s travelled through Gatwick has used one."

Plans for a tram link between Glasgow Airport and the railway network were ditched by the SNP council in favour of a "shuttle pod system" between the airport and Paisley Gilmour Street after fears about the ability of the current rail infastructure around Glasgow to cope with the extra capacity.

However critics including Scottish Labour MP Paul Sweeney and other community leaders have criticised the new plans, with Glasgow Labour leader Frank McAveety saying it was a "betrayal" to the city.

Writing for the Evening Times, council leader Susan Aitken suggested the addition of extra tram links between the airport and the Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street train station could prove calamitous because the existing network could not tolerate extra capacity.

Aitken, who took over in 2017, pointed to several other airports across Europe which also do not enjoy a rail link, however analysis shows that Glasgow is one of few comparable airports which are not directly connected by rail.

Gatwick airport's official Twitter account also intervened to clear up it's transport links after Aitken compared the short journey between Gatwick's North and South Terminal, where the airport is serviced by a train station, with her proposed solution of a shuttle between Glasgow Airport and a train station in a different town.

Sweeney also pointed out that one of those airports cited by Aitken as comparable to Glasgow in not having a rail link is itself due for closure next year to be replaced by Brandenberg Airport which is fully intergrated with the German rail network.

Meanwhile, analysis by the The Evening Times of rail services at European airports examined claims by Aitken that direct rail links were "unusual".

Speaking to The Red Robin, Paul Sweeney MP said: “What a gaffe from Susan Aitken. 

“Anyone who has travelled through Gatwick will know that the rail link takes you directly to the South Terminal. The shuttle service Susan Aitken is talking about takes you from one terminal to another, not to the airport itself.
“The SNP’s decision to scrap GARL is a betrayal of the city, and Susan Aitken’s spin to defend it is at best a Gatwick gaffe, and at worst deliberately misleading.” 

Half of the 10 cities identified have airports directly connected by rail, and all three of the cities with comparable populations to Glasgow have rail links.

The newspaper also identified three other European cities with airports serving comparable passenger numbers, Lyon in France, Porto in Portugal and Stuttgart in Germany, and again found all three to have direct rail links.

The row is expected to continue whilst the SNP council prepares a business case for its newly preferred option alongside the Scottish Government. 

Showing 6 reactions

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  • Mike Picken
    commented 2019-02-16 10:49:03 +0000
    Onlookers are certainly confused. I live in Paisley overlooking Glasgow-Paisley Airport and I’m certainly confused about Scottish Labour’s position on the airport.

    Firstly, a simple factual point: the proposed pod link does not go through “another town”. The airport is in Renfrewshire on the outskirts of Paisley, NOT Glasgow, and it is virtually impossible to get to and from the airport by rail without first going through Paisley.

    Secondly, I’m all for investment in rail, but is an AIRPORT connection really the priority for Scottish Labour?

    Please wake up, Scottish Labour! Thousands of school children protested across Scotland demanding stronger action on climate change from ALL politicians. Air travel is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and we need to tackle it serious. I’m disgusted that several SCOTTISH Labour MPs recently voted to support the new runway at Heathrow Airport, against huge protests in England about the environmental damage that would be done. Their vote was bought on the basis of promises that connecting flights would go to Scottish airports. Even the hypocrites in the SNP didn’t fall for that bull from the Tories. Do Scottish Labour MPs really trust the English Tory government with airports?

    Thirdly, there is an alternative to airports!!! We need to put massive investment into rail to places where people want to go. We also need a massive programme of investment into the depleted shipbuilding industries of the Clyde, building FERRIES. Ferries should be built and run by publicly owned companies AND that are solar-powered and low carbon. We need to develop not airports but low carbon industries, where Scotland could lead the world. It is a travesty that there is not a single ferry from Scotland to anywhere on the European mainland – little wonder that the carbon and pollution-spewing air industry wants to expand.

    Have a bit of sense Scottish Labour. It’s all very well knocking the SNP for ‘betrayal’ but try and get some decent environmental and socially useful investment policies of your own first – break with the oil and gas economy, close down the carbon industries, and support a massive JUST TRANSITION for workers to a low carbon economy with sustainable jobs. And make a start with challenging investment in air industries – the worst industry of them all. Future generations will thank you for it.

    (PS I am a socialist, an affiliated union member and I did actually vote Labour in 2017 in Scotland to support Jeremy Corbyn. but if Scottish Labour carries on with nonsense like this you’ll be struggling to get my support back come the next election).
  • @redrobinscot tweeted this page. 2019-02-13 11:03:03 +0000
    Glasgow Labour leader Frank McAveety said plans to scrap the rail link were a "betrayal" to the city https://www.theredrobin.scot/glasgow_rail_link_row_rumbles_as_gatwick_intervenes?recruiter_id=2
  • @redrobinscot tweeted this page. 2019-02-12 19:03:02 +0000
    Scottish Labour has criticised plans to scrap the direct rail link planned for Glasgow airport https://www.theredrobin.scot/glasgow_rail_link_row_rumbles_as_gatwick_intervenes?recruiter_id=2
  • @redrobinscot tweeted this page. 2019-02-12 17:07:50 +0000
    Glasgow rail link row rumbles on as Gatwick intervenes after comments by SNP council leader https://www.theredrobin.scot/glasgow_rail_link_row_rumbles_as_gatwick_intervenes?recruiter_id=2
  • @redrobinscot tweeted this page. 2019-02-12 17:06:33 +0000
    Glasgow rail link row rumbles as Gatwick intervenes after comments by SNP council leader https://www.theredrobin.scot/glasgow_rail_link_row_rumbles_as_gatwick_intervenes?recruiter_id=2
  • The Red Robin
    published this page in Blog 2019-02-12 17:04:23 +0000