The Anonymous Widower

An Innovative Scheme For A Rail Link To Glasgow Airport

This article on Renfrewshire 24 is entitled New Option Could See Glasgow Airport Rail Link Run From Relocated Glasgow St. James Station.

The new option, which is proposed by Junction 29 (Scotland) Ltd, would relocate Paisley St. James Street station nearer to the airport and it would be connected to the airport using a PRT system similar to that used at Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

This Google Map shows the area.



  • Junction 29 of the M8 is the mass of spaghetti in the upper middle of the map, with the Inverclyde Line passing to the South-west of the junction.
  • Paisley St. James station is towards the bottom of the map.
  • Junction 29 (Scotland) Ltd. own the block of land to the West of the railway and the new station would be built in this area, where the PRT system would connect to the Airport.

I think it could be a feasible plan and these are my thoughts.

A Proven System

Wikipedia says this about the PRT System at Heathrow.

Construction of the guideway was completed in October 2008. The line is largely elevated, but includes a ground level section where the route passes under the approach to the airport’s northern runway. Following various trials, including some using airport staff as test passengers, the line opened to the public in May 2011 as a passenger trial. Subsequently it was made fully operational and the bus service between the business car park and Terminal 5 was discontinued. The pods use 50% less energy than a bus. They run 22 hours a day. Unlike all UK road and rail traffic, which drives on the left, the PRT system drives on the right. As of May 2013 the system passed the 600,000th passenger milestone.

The interesting thing, is that it runs under the runway approach, so it must have a fairly small footprint.

I actually think that using this system has other advantages.

  • It could go on a roundabout route between the station and the Airport, serving car parks and other important places.
  • It could serve the car parks, which are also proposed for the site.
  • It could bring those with movement difficulties to the station for the Park-and-Ride to Paisley and Glasgow.
  • It is very much a proven system.
  • The tram-train alternative works in many places in the world, but the concept seems to cause Network Rail indegestion.
  • The PRT System is independent of the railway.

But in my view the system’s biggest advantage is that it could have a serious wow factor for children of all ages.


The cost of the PRT option is quoted at £70-£80m, as opposed to £144m for the tram-train alternative.

Journey Times

Journey times to the airport will certainly be competitive, but I think the wow factor will encourage passengers to use it, whether they come by train or car to the station.

Why Would You Want To Close The Existing Station?

I would not close the existing Paisley St. James station for these reasons.

  • It serves Paisley Town centre and St. Mirren Football Club.
  • Closing it could be a hassle.
  • Extra stations are never a bad thing.
  • Modern trains stop and start again at a station very quickly.
  • The new station could be called Glasgow Airport to avoid confusion.

But then there may be better reasons to close it.

Train Frequency

There needs to be at least four trains per hour (tph) to Paisley Gilmour Street and Glasgow.

If not more, as the frequency of the PRT system will annoy passengers waiting for the trains.

I also think that a turnback facility should be provided, so that a posh Airport shuttle train could work a 2 tph limited-stop service to Glasgow Central.

If Glasgow got its act together, the posh train could also serve Edinburgh.


It is stated in the Renfrewshire 24 article, that the new station and the PRT system could be built in twelve months alongside the existing network.

As all the land is owned by the Airport, Junction 29 and Network Rail, this must help, unless they find newts.

They could even lift a lot of the design of some of the other new stations like Kirkstall Forge.

Future Development

I’m sure Junction 29 (Scotland) Ltd. have got some good plans for the rest of their site.


Go for it! Glasgow has been procrastinating for far too long!

I think we’ll see a lot of systems like this around the world!

The system is described here in Wikipedia.

It’s British by the way and was developed in Cardiff and Bristol.









October 14, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Behind London’s Contactless Ticketing

I have just read this article on London Reconnections, which is entitled Don’t Fear the Beeper: Bus Hopper Tickets and the Future of Oyster.

It is fascinating stuff and a lot consists of an interview with Shashi Verma, TfL’s Director of Technology and Customer Experience.

One thing that surprised me is that Oyster and Contactless have separate back-ends, but the two will be combined in 2018.

So I think we’ll see lots of new features coming in after 2018.

As many of these will improve the customer experience, isn’t Sadiq a lucky Mayor, as he’ll get the credit rather than the geek who had the idea and did the coding.

This is said in the article about the Bus Hopper

This isn’t to say, of course, that the Hopper was an entirely new idea.

“[It] is something we have wanted to do for years and years.” Verma confirms. “But we haven’t wanted to do in the way that some politicians have wanted it to be done.”

So it was there all along.

How many other things will be possible, when the back offices are combined?

Use With Railcards

According to this page on the TfL web site, railcards don’t work with contactless cards.

I would suspect that one feature after 2018, would be that if you create an account for contactless or Oyster and add a railcard to the account, your fares will be adjusted accordingly.

The system could also handle the very popular Two Together Railcard. You’d just register two accounts for each traveller with the same railcard, then if they’re both used within say five minutes for the same journey, the back office applies the discount.

Use With Freedom Pass

Once the back offices are combined, the Freedom Pass could be made to work in two ways.

As now!

Or it is registered in your TfL account along with your contactless card and the back office would charge you an appropriate fare.

So if say I wanted to go to Gatwick Airport or anywhere in the Oystercard area, I just tap in and out with my contactless bank card and the back office charges be the £3, I would be charged if I went to East Croydon using my Freedom Pass and left the station before coming back in using contactless to get a train to the Airport.

If such a method was possible, I would certainly use it, as quite a few of the journeys I do are just outside the Freedom Pass area, but still within the Oystercard area.

It would then mean that I would only have to carry one card in my pocket.

The Outer London Freedom Pass

Say you live in one of the administrative districts that ring London. I’ll use Epping Forest as an example.

Because of your age or circumstances, you are entitled to a bus pass, but you get no free travel on trains or the Underground.

If your local authority decided to have a Freedom Pass scheme for all travel in the district, you would get any train or tube travel between stations in the local authority or to the boundary of the area, free.

In the case of Epping Forest, you’d get the outer reaches of the Central Line.

So if you were travelling from Theydon Bois to Liverpool Street, you’d only get charged for the tube between Woodford or Grange Hill and Liverpool Street.

You would create a contactless/Oyster account on TfL and add your bus pass and/or railcard to the account.

The back office would do the rest and you’d travel all over the Oystercard area using your contactless card.

I think that some local authorities could look at this concept seriously to encourage card holders to shop locally.

Stations Could Allow Freedom Passes Outside Zone 6

I’ll take Greenhithe for Bluewater station as an example.

The clue is in the station name.

Suppose that the Shopping Centre felt it would get a lot more business from Freedom Pass holders if it were to be in Zone 6, would it pay for the cost of tickets for Freedom Pass holders to attract them to their relaxed shopping experience.

It should be noted that there are already stations outside Zone 6, like Watford High Street and Shenfield stations, that allow Freedom Passes provided you use the London Overground or TfL Rail.

Other possibilities include.

  • Gravesend by an extended Crossrail.
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Watford Vicarage Road
  • Windsor

Who knows, which local authorities, events and attractions would find subsidising travel worthwhile.

Imagine for instance Winter-only Off Peak use of a Freedom Pass to say Brighton or Southend.


Travel in London is going to get even more interesting.

I look forward to the day, when I have a single card in my pocket!

October 14, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment