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Radical transport blueprint for Glasgow includes Metro network

Words: Roger Milne
Glasgow Central Station / iStock-459022319

A radical transport blueprint for Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest conurbation, has been published.

It includes ambitious proposals for a Glasgow-wide light-rail Metro system; a tunnel linking Glasgow Central and Queen Street stations; an extension of the Central station across the Clyde to accommodate HS2 trains; and a metro connection between the city centre and the airport.

The scheme comes with a price-tag of £10 billion and a 20-year time frame.

It’s the outcome of the deliberations of the Glasgow Connectivity Commission, chaired by transport guru professor David Begg.

The commission’s report highlights measures to transform the economic performance of the city region and reconnect left-behind areas to Scotland’s economic powerhouse.

The commission concluded that developing a Glasgow Metro was critical to connect areas of the city currently poorly served by rail.

Equally important, said the commission, was making sure both HS2 and metro developments acted as a catalyst for regeneration, generating private-sector investment and capturing the uplift in land value.

The commission has called for a regional transport authority to coordinate land-use planning and transport investment. It would develop plans for bus priority on Glasgow’s motorway network and it would prepare for the shift to electric and autonomous vehicles by considering new methods of road charging.

It examined proposals to link Glasgow Airport to the rail network and recommended that this should be achieved within the existing timeframe of 2025 with committed budgets. However, it rejected proposals to build a “pod”-style people carrier, concluding that it was no longer appropriate to plan for a self-contained transport system that only served the airport.

Instead, the commission recommended building a link between the airport and Paisley Gilmour Street Station as the first leg of a Metro line that would then be extended to connect the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland, Renfrew (the largest town in Scotland without a rail station), Braehead Shopping Centre and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to the city centre.

Over the next two decades, this route should be extended across the city by reviving a network of abandoned rail routes, converting heavy rail to light rail and developing on-street tram running, the report proposed.

Professor Begg insisted the report’s recommendations were “ambitious and achievable”. “The proposals we have recommended here will deliver a step-change in Glasgow’s economic performance and drive Scotland’s ambitions to deliver stronger, sustainable, inclusive growth.

“They are bold, ambitious and transformative but we are also confident that they are achievable and the right response to secure Glasgow’s long-term economic prosperity,” he said.

The report has been welcomed by the Scottish transport secretary, Michael Matheson. He said: “The commission’s report is timely as Transport Scotland takes forward a nationwide assessment of transport requirements with work on an updated National Transport Strategy and the second Strategic Transport Projects Review underway.”

Susan Aitken, leader of the city council, set up the commission. She commented: “These recommendations have the potential to deliver the kind of inclusive and sustainable economic growth the city government is committed to, to give Glasgow a competitive edge it needs to compete globally and provide the transport networks the citizens of Glasgow and beyond deserve.”

Connecting Glasgow: Creating an Inclusive Thriving, Liveable City can be found here on the Glasgow City Council website (pdf).

Image credit | iStock