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."
My @TheEveningTimes column, a dose of realism about transport links to Glasgow Airport. Some Labour MSPs are 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 https://t.co/YqWlg2IXmf— Susan Aitken (@SusaninLangside) 12 February 2019
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.
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.