Glasgow Airport Tram Train – update February 2016.

I had meant to write an updated post sooner following the decision of the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal Cabinet to look at Tram-Train to link Glasgow Airport to the City. I got fairly frustrated reading coverage of the proposal.


 Both articles came up pretty soon after the City Deal proposals for the tram-train link were reported.

It follows the logic that the previous GARL scheme was the best option.

The Rail Qwest criticisms are because they had a modified scheme called NewGARL, however, unfortunately, details of this countering scheme are difficult to find online. They have been previously given prominence in magazines such as Rail.

RailQwest are linked to Railfuture, at times described as a campaigner group for the West of Scotland, so this article in Railfuture’s December Railwatch magazine isn’t a particular surprise. 

The language used is quite strong in its criticism.

But back to the Herald’s article with the expert.  

Yes, Mr Wolmar is their current chairman.

So, alternative proposal, Railfuture, RailQwest all link up to each other. And the narrative sold is the same. A heavy rail link is necessary.

If there is to be a public debate on the issue through quotes to newspapers and interest magazines, then shouldn’t it be a fair discussion?

Two visuals from the GARL proposal. One shows the viaduct over the St James playing fields, the other the proposed span over the M8 and A737. 

In retrospect it was a huge scheme that planned to come in at second floor level near the airport car park block. It demolished a nearby nursery, the airport fuel farm and brought only a few additional services through Paisley Gilmour Street.

The utility of a heavy rail link without the Glasgow Crossrail scheme has been frequently mentioned in the past and is a topic in the Current Issue of Rail Magazine.

 I think it’s a separate issue to how the airport can be linked to Paisley and Glasgow. Certainly there may be advantages to Ayr and Inverclyde trains linking to points east but we need further electrification schemes in the east of Scotland for through services.

But, disadvantages of Tram/Train to heavy rail?

These are the vehicles being introduced for the Sheffield/Rotherham Tram Train Trial. Class 399 built by Vossloh Espana, capable of 68mph/100kph, suitably crashworthy front sections for operation on the mainline. 96 seats, capable of 140 passengers.

Vehicles of that type won’t be unfamiliar to tourist and business travellers coming from Europe.

The Shields junction to Arkleston junctions section of track has triple track sections rated at 75mph speeds according to Networ Rail Route documents. 

75mph is also the maximum speed of the currently used class 314 EMU’s used on some services to inverclyde.  

The 314’s can share track and be overtaken by the modern class 380 units that are also currently in use, so it’s not a great issue to envisage tram trains sharing that route section.


The plan above shows proposed route, in simplified form.

A detailed route may look closer to this and that’s where the tram trains ability to handle a smaller curve radius wins out. 

No need to cross the playing fields with a huge viaduct or use a bridge over the eight lanes of the M8 and A737 as those previous proposal diagrams showed.

Locally, it wins, it’s doesn’t cut a swath through the north of Paisley, it’s a modern and attractive solution. Capacity doesn’t need to be excessive given the variables of flight arrivals during the day and at busier times a double set could be used.

If park and ride at St James station and St James motorway junction can be suitably incorporated into the scheme, then there’s also a chance to abstract commuter traffic from a busy section of the M8.

Looking at the Airport area, Renfrewshire Council have proposals for improving the road to the east boundary and creating a new link over the White Cart to Renfrew.

It’s not a huge leap of imagination to think that the tram train link could link with other local proposals and in time link to Renfrew town centre and the Intu Braehead scheme.

It’s also not a huge leap of imagination to see that a tram/train could be routed off the main line in Glasgow and help to solve future issues around city centre terminus capacity at Glasgow Central.

So let’s have a fair discussion and let’s think if a tram/train solution brings more to the table for the airport, Paisley, Renfrewshire and the West of Scotland.

(Apologies for formatting underneath)

e s

hields to Paisley

section of track


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