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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Glasgow Airport Link Easy If the Politicians Weren't Stopping It

 The Glasgow airport rail link (GARL) is a long story of the incompetence,at best, of all 3 ruling parties in Scotland's political class
The Scottish Parliament on 29 November 2006 passed the GARL bill by 118 votes to 8, thus allowing the construction of the route to begin. Construction was to be in phases with the re-location of football pitches in the route's path at Paisley St James scheduled for 2007, before route clearing and track work in 2007 and 2008. The cost of the route was estimated at £170m, with inflation increasing the cost to a potential £210m....
In 2008, control of the GARL project passed from SPT to Transport Scotland who would have overseen the building of the route. Overhead catenary work and a re-modelling of Shields Junction over the past year have already taken place in connection with GARL. In December 2008, Transport Scotland announced that the tender competition will begin in spring 2009, meaning GARL would have been operational in early 2013...
On 11 July 2008, Transport Scotland announced that 38 Class 380 trains have been ordered for use on Ayrshire and Inverclyde services and also the Glasgow Airport Rail Link....

17 September 2009, the Scottish Government scrapped the airport branch component of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link amid concerns over the need for public spending cuts

  The cancellation of a project then at about £300 million, cost £41 million. So we got nowt and it only cost us £41 million.

   Labour, who started this, are still making political mileage out of the SNP's subsequent decision to cancel a project which even Labour's initial report acknowledged didn't even come close to making economic success.  Labour fairly openly admit that they care more about the ability to funnel money at Glasgow developers (at least some of whom are Labour donors) than about the economics of the case.

    What both parties studiously avoid mentioning is that there was, on the table, an offer to build a link for around £20 million. All 3 parties were aware of this and rejected it purely because it had not been invented by them.

    I say this with certainty because I was the person who came up with the proposal. I suggested an overhead monorail link to Paisley Station which has trains every few minutes into Glasgow and almost equally valuable - similar rail links to the airport at Prestwick so that together they could serve as a regional hub.

"some years ago I wrote to you, while you (Nicol Stephen, subsequently "LibDem" leader) were the Scottish transport Minister ...suggesting that a better option would be an automated monorail. You will recall that the in initial reply you had sent was that this option would be considered but only if I could find some company will to tender for the job. When I did indeed find such a company, ULTra, who were doing a similar job at Heathrow & who expressed their willingness to tender for a price around £20 million, you will recall that I received a 2nd letter advising that the statement that you would be willing to consider this if I found somebody should not have been taken to mean that you would consider this if I found somebody. Instead I was told that the government would only ever, under any circumstances, be willing to look at any new ideas if they had been brought up by the leaders of the parties in government.

That certainly provides full inoculation against any form of innovation."

  The SNP were somewhat more polite about it but rejected even looking seriously at it on the grounds that until they had looked seriously at it they could not say for certain that it would be "so clearly superior to GARL" as to justify them looking seriously at it (I particularly like the "so clearly superior" which acknowledges that, even without looking at it, they can see it is somewhat superior).

  Since the cancellation all 3 parties simply refuse to comment on the matter.

  This is the ULTra system currently in use at Heathrow airport.

  We could have had that in place by now for half what our politicians have already spent. Obviously less money in it for donors than a £300 million project would make but the people paying would have got something useful out of it.

  We still can.

  John Swinney has said that Scotland's budget for infrastructure projects will go up substantially to offset our recession. This would be a good thing if the money were actually to be spent doing the work efficiently. Unfortunately we know that the SNP's idea of running infrastructure projects is that, when done at their best such projects cost 8 times the engineering costs (an example of not the best being trams) - the rest being blown a mixture of political parasitism and theft.

  The main parties are happy with this cosy arrangement and only a refusal by the public to be stolen from, again, will make them change.

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