SPT has unveiled proposals for a phased development of the Glasgow Crossrail Project ahead of a parliamentary debate on the plans.
The project, which has been dubbed the crucial missing link in Scotland’s rail network, would be delivered in three stages.
The first stage could be completed in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, if an early go-ahead is given.
The plans have received cross-party endorsement from MSPs, who are due to put the case for Crossrail to Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson on Thursday in a special member’s debate.
Crossrail’s supporters want to see the project approved as a priority and included in the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review.
A report, carried out for SPT by transport consultants Faber Maunsell, predicted that more than four million passengers would access proposed new stations at Glasgow Cross, Gorbals and West Street.
Faber Maunsell also suggested that Crossrail, which would link the rail lines serving Glasgow Central and Queen Street stations, would add £1.06bn to the Scottish economy over a costed 60-year period.
Cost of the project was estimated at between £115m and £187m in a 2005 technical appraisal study.
The staged approach would see:
- Upgrading of the City Union Line between High Street Junction and Shields Junction, enabling services to run directly between Airdrie/Springburn and the Paisley corridor. This would allow services such as Ayr – Edinburgh to operate;
- A Croy – Barrhead service, requiring construction of the Strathbungo Link and allowing access from Crossrail to the East Kilbride/Barrhead/Kilmarnock route;
- Construction of the High Street Curve and the associated turnback at Kelvinhaugh, allowing trains to run from Charing Cross to Glasgow Cross and beyond.
Bill Butler, Labour MSP for Glasgow Anniesland, secured the member’s debate in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
Speaking at a media conference on Tuesday, he said: “The phasing is something that we will be suggesting to the minister if that is something more appropriate, given current circumstances.
“We’re not going to be precious or party political. This is cross-party support. This is about delivering for Glasgow, west central Scotland and indeed for Scotland nationally and we hope the minister will see that.”
Glasgow SNP MSP Sandra White said: “We have to have the Crossrail project in the strategic transport review but we are willing to do it in stages.
“This is not a Glasgow parochial Crossrail link, this is a nationwide Scottish link.”
Ms White said she hosted a fringe meeting at the SNP’s conference which was the “largest fringe meeting we’ve ever hosted and we got 100% support”.
She added: “This has been debated in the parliament every year since 1999 and its time has come. The city is due to host the Commonwealth Games and it’s very important that we get this link.”
Ms White said there would also be huge benefits for areas such as the Gorbals and Crossrail would have huge potential for creating jobs.
SPT Chair, Councillor Alistair Watson, said: “This project does not need to be delivered in one fell swoop. It can be delivered in three phases.
“As far as rail projects are concerned, this is quite unique because effectively what we are talking about is using little-used or redundant rail infrastructure which could be brought back into use for the network. That’s why the overall capital costs are very much on the low side.
“We do understand that the government does not have a bottomless pit of money in each financial year and that’s why we’re offering to phase the project.”