The Anonymous Widower

Don’t Rule Out Rail Link Says Glasgow Airport Boss

The title of this post, as the same as that of this article on the Evening Times.

Surely, the Airport must know best what passengers want!

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Scrapping Of Airport Link ‘Lack Of Ambition’ At The Heart Of Government

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is one of those sagas that rumbles on and on, with all those involved in the decision having different views on how to solve the problem.

I suspect a very experienced transport engineer and planner from Aberdeen, Cardiff or Liverpool, could tell the Glaswegians what they really need on the back of a used envelope.

But there are so many politicians grinding axes in the decision, that nothing sensible will ever happen.

One of my Glaswegian friends told me some years ago, that they should close both Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports and build a new rail-connected airport between the two cities.

Look at these distances

  • London to Gatwick – 27 miles
  • London to Stansted – 38 miles
  • Edinburgh to Glasgow – 46 miles

Perhaps my friend has a point, as a shared airport would be closer to Edinburgh and Glasgow, than Gatwick and Stansted are to London.

But as someone, who has only ever used Glasgow Airport once, I think that Glasgow’s biggest rail problem is the two separate stations in the centre with no simple interchange.

I walk between the two,stations, but not everybody can.


February 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Row Erupts Over Decision To Scrap Glasgow Rail Link For Transport Pods

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Construction Review.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A row has broken out over a decision to cancel a direct rail link between Glasgow Airport and the town of Paisely, just east of Glasgow, in favour of exploring a self-driving transportation pod system.

The direct rail link was announced as part of a £1.1bn investment in the Glasgow City Region deal agreed in 2014 and was expected to be operational by 2025.

I am not sure, which system I prefer, but then I’m a rather different type of airport traveller.

  • I generally travel alone.
  • I rarely have anything more than a man-bag and a small hold-all.
  • I want convenience and can easily walk up to a kilometre with my hold-all.
  • I only fly Ryanair as an airline of last resort.

But what annoys me most, is if to get to the Airport, I have to scratch around buying a ticket for the link from the station to the Airport.

At all London Airports, except Luton, you buy a ticket to the airport station or use a contactless card.

Luton is introducing an automated shuttle between the airport and Luton Airport Parkway station and if it is not free, I’ll never use the airport.

A Tram-Train Rail Link

Edinburgh and Manchester Airports have tram links between the Airport and the City Centre, so I can’t see any problems with a tram-train link, that instead of dropping you on the street in the City Centre, as a tram would do, drops you in a railway station.

The way Manchester is thinking about tram-trains, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at Manchester Airport.

Based on what I have seen in Sheffield, I don’t believe there would be any serious problems developing a tram-train link to Glasgow Airport..

However, these could be issues.

  • Is there enough spare capacity on the Inverclyde Line?
  • The tram-train link would go to Paisley Gilmore Street and Glasgow Central stations, but what if your local train service to Glasgow goes to Glasgow Queen Street station.

Would many people still use their cars to get to the Airport?

A Pod System

I wrote about the proposed pod system for Glasgow Airport in An Innovative Scheme For A Rail Link To Glasgow Airport.

It has its plus points, but I worry that getting the right number of pods to provide a good service might be tricky.

Would many people still use their cars to get to the Airport?

IThe Connection In Glasgow

Glasgow’s problem is that both these links connect into the centre of Glasgow at Glasgow Central station.

So if your connection to Glasgow comes into Glasgow Queen Street station, you will have to hump your bags across the City Centre.

A plan has existed for years to create Crossrail Glasgow, which would make matters easier.

But nothing has so far been decided.


There is no point in building any form of link to Glasgow Airport, unless Crossrail Glasgow is built.

Otherwise, passengers with an indirect route to Glasgow Central station will still drive or avoid the airport entirely.




February 8, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Procrastination Over Airport Rail Links

This article in the Glasgow Evening Times is entitled Glasgow Airport Rail Link: Fresh Fears Over Plans As MSP Slams Delay.

The title says it all.

Of the airports in the UK, the following have or will have good rail or tram links.

  • Birmingham
  • Cardiff
  • Edinburgh
  • Gatwick
  • Heathrow
  • London City
  • Luton – Building a people-mover between the airport and station.
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Southampton
  • Southend
  • Stansted

In addition, the following airports have been talking about rail links.

  • Belfast City
  • Bristol
  • East Midlands
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds/Bradford
  • Liverpool

In fact they’ve been talking about rail links for decades.

As I started with a report about Glasgow, if you want to see how they have taken two decades to get nowhere, read the Wikipedia entry for the Glasgow Airport Rail Link.

The latest £144million plan involves tram-trains running from Glasgow Central station.

Currently, of the airports, that have talked for years, I believe the following could use tram-train technology to provide the airport rail link.

  • Bristol
  • East Midlands
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds/Bradford
  • Liverpool

Now that tram-trains are working well in Sheffield and have been ordered for the South Wales Metro, surely this technology can be considered almost mainstream for the UK.

In the specific case of Glasgow the following would be needed.

  • Modification of platforms at Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street stations, so they would give level-access to the tram-trains.
  • Creation of a single-track spur to the airport without electrification, that ends in a single platform, close to or in the airport terminal.
  • A fleet of Class 399 tram-trains with a battery capability, as have been ordered for the South Wales Metro.
  • Improved signalling to handle the extra trains.


  1. Space should be left, so that in the future, the airport spur could be doubled.
  2. A flat junction would probably work initially, but provision for a flying junction for the spur should be made.
  3. Currently, four trains per hour (tph) run past the Airport.
  4. Could the tram-trains be built to give level access to standard height platforms, so that no substantial modification of existing platforms would be needed?

It also strikes me, that this could be a privately funded scheme.

  • Glasgow Airport is ultimately owned by Ferrovial and Macquarie Group, who will be the main beneficiary of the scheme.
  • Both Ferrovial and Macquarie Group are companies that invest in infrastructure.
  • The Class 399 tram-trains can obviously be leased.

So what’s the problem?

  • Network Rail are against the scheme, as it’s not one of theirs.
  • The Scottish government won’t sanction a privately-funded scheme.
  • Various interests want a different scheme.
  • The jury is still out on tram-trains.
  • It’s a scheme for Glasgow and the decision is taken in Edinburgh.
  • Glasgow would get a better airport link than Edinburgh.

Enlighten me!

Other Airport Links

Once Glasgow is completed, other airport links could be built using the same techniques.

I have a feeling, that another airport will get a tram-train link before Glasgow!




January 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Architect Produces Longest Moving Walkway Alternative To Tram-Train Glasgow Airport Link

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in The Herald.

The world’s longest travelator would link a new station on the Inverclyde Line to the Airport.

This Google Map shows the Airport and the rail line.

The railway runs at right-angles to the runway alongside the M8 motorway. The station in the middle of the map is Paisley St. James station.

The article says the station will be built near the Ferguslie Park housing estate in Paisley. It is marked on the map to the West of Paisley St. James station.

These are my thoughts on the plan.

Ferguslie Park Station

This enlarged map shows Ferguslie Park, the complicted motorway junction and Paisley St. James station.

From the look of this map, it would appear that there used to be a triangular junction here. Where did that railway go?

The position will have to chosen with care, as it can’t be too near to Paisley St. James station and in a position that allowed an easy connection to a travelator to and from the Airport.

Frequency Of Trains

Airports around the UK have these numbers of trains in each hour.

  • Birmingham has upwards of eight trains in both directions.
  • Edinburgh has six trams.
  • Gatwick has four Express services and will have ten Thameslink services in both directions.
  • Heathrow has four Express services and will have at least four Crossrail service.
  • Luton has seven trains in both directions.
  • Manchester has nine trains and twelve trams.
  • Newcastle has at least four Metro trains.
  • Stansted has four Express services.

Surely, the service to Ferguslie Park must have a frequency of at least four trains per hour!

This would not be unobtainable, as the two termini of Gourock and Wemyss Bay stations have enough capacity.

The Long Travelator

I believe a long travelator would work, but I do think it would have to be designed carefully in sections for Health and Safety reasons.

My real reservations are that after my visit to Paisley St. James station, which I wrote about in Paisley St. James Station, I do wonder how passengers will like a travelator link.

  • The area is fairly bleak, for a wait of up to fifteen minutes.
  • Inside a tram would be more comfortable.
  • There would need to be a step-free bridge at the new station.

In my view it would like a cheap option, that would be difficult to expand.

Using A Tram-Train

Since the travelator plan was published in the Herald, Stadler have launched tram-trains with a battery capability for the South Wales Metro.

These could do the following as a minimum.

  • Run between Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street stations using the 25 KVAC overhead electrification.
  • Run a frequency of four tram-trains per hour on a bi-directional single-track spur without electrification to a single platform at the Airport.
  • Run between Paisley St. James station and the Airport on batteries, that would be charged between Glasgow Central and Paisley Gilmour Street stations.
  • Stop at Paisley Gilmour Street station to change power source.
  • Handle 230 passengers in each tram-train.

The system could also be expanded if needed.

  • The tram-trains could work in pairs.
  • The spur could be double track.
  • A second platform could be built at the Airport.

This could handle up to eight tram-trains per hour.

Is Glasgow A World City?

Probably not yet!


  • Glasgow hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
  • Glasgow hosted the European Games in 2018.
  • It has the facilities to handle World Championships in many sports.
  • It has two football teams, that regularly play in European competitions.
  • Hampden Park has hosted six European football finals.

At least on the wider sporting front, it can be considered an important city, that is on a par with Manchester in England.

And I think it will soon be recognised as a World City!

For this reason alone, the Airport needs a proper rail service, rather than a travelator to a bleak station.

Other Airports

The following Airports in the UK need a decent rail link.

  • Bristol
  • East Midlands
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool

A similar tram-train link could be provided in a similar manner at these airports and probably many others around Europe and the rest of the World.


I will be very surprised, if Glasgow Airport doesn’t get a tram-train link, that uses batteries.

September 8, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Glasgow Looks To Venice With Water Taxi Service To Airport

In Wikipedia, there is a section called Venice of the North. Included in the list of thirty-seven cities are the likes of Ansterdam, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Gdansk, Lubeck, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.

But surely Amiens, Colmar, Manchester, Skipton and various places I’ve never heard of, is taking the list too far!

The title of this post is the same as an article in the Scotsman, about a Glaswegian, who intends to start a water taxi service to Glasgow Airport.

This Google Map shows Glasgow Airport, which has the Black Cart Water to the North and the White Cart Water to the East.

The two waters join to the North of the Airport and then flow into the River Clyde.

This is proposed.

  • The boat terminal at the airport would be on a pontoon on the White Cart Water, about five hundred metres East of the airport.
  • Transfer from the airport to boat would be initially by golf buggy.
  • The trip to the City Centre would take 25 minutes by fast boat.

It’s the sort of plan, that if carried out with style could work very well!

This Google Map shows the River Clyde through Glasgow.

Unlike the Thames through London, it appears to be straight.

The Airport is at the West of the map between the fork of the Black and White Cart Waters.

It was always thought that river buses on the Thames wouldn’t work, but over recent years, the Thames Clippers seem to have made a success of it.

Perhaps someone will make the same concept work in Glasgow.


I wish the guy well and I suspect that in a few years, the Clyde will be an important commuter, tourist and sairport route.

It just needs the right design of boat.

August 20, 2017 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link Will Be A Tram-Train

This article on the BBC is entitled Plans for direct tram-train link between Glasgow Airport and city.

This is the three opening paragraphs.

Plans to create a “tram-train” link between Glasgow Airport and the city centre have been unveiled.

The £144m Glasgow Airport Access Project could see journey times cut to 16.5 minutes and would bypass the need to use the busy M8.

It would involve a specially-designed hybrid tram-train using the existing railway network and on-street tracks.

That sounds like a sensible plan.

What Is A Hybrid Tram-Train?

As I said in Were The New Merseyrail Trains Designed In A South London Pub?, I believe that Stadler have designed a rail vehicle, that can.

  • Be equipped to run on any of the electrified rail lines in the UK.
  • Run as a train on heavy rail lines such as that between Glasgow Central and Paisley St. James stations, where it would use 25 kVAC overhead electrification.
  • Run as a tram on a dedicated tram track to the Airport, built without electrification, using onboard energy storage charged on the journey on the electrified line between Glasgow and Paisley.
  • Provide step-free access by making sure that the trains fit the platforms, which would all be built to the same height.

I believe that the trains could be a version of those that Stadler are building for Merseyrail. After all, the Swiss company are already building special trains for the Glasgow Subway.

How Many Trains?

As it takes about sixteen minutes between Glasgow Central and Paisley St. James stations., one train would probably provide an hourly service.

But obviously, things do go wrong, so at least two trains would be needed, with one as a spare or in maintenance.

Two trains could provide two trains per hour (tph), with four trains needed to  provide 4 tph.

Trains, Infrastructure And Costs

Merseyrail is paying £9million for each similar four-car train, which includes extras like maintenance.

The only differences would be.

  • Glasgow’s trains would be 25 kVAC trains, whereas Merseyrail’s are 750 VDC third-rail trains.
  • Interior fit and colour scheme.

Note that Stadler have said that the Merseyrail trains can have 25 KVAC equipment and batteries fitted.

I would buy five trains to provide a four tph service, with one as a spare or in maintenance.

This would leave around £100million for the only new infrastructure, which will be a rail spur to the airport from the West of Paisley St. James station station on the Inverclyde Line.

This spur could be built along the following lines.

  • Single- or double-track.
  • On-street or dedicated fenced off track.
  • No electrification.
  • Traditional signalling or in-cab.
  • Simple stations like the tram stops in Birmingham, Croydon, Edinburgh or Nottingham.
  • Step-free level access.

I think a single-track bi-directional track would work, but space should probably be left for double track, if it proves very popular.

It might be better to think of the rail spur as a long well-landscaped siding, which just happens to end within a few metres from an airport terminal.

I think that this link could be built inside the allocated budget of £144million.

Other Airport Links

Note that if this works for Glasgow, what about Bristol, Cardiff, East Midlands and Leeds/Bradford and Liverpool Airports?

Leeds/Bradford Airport

This article on the BBC is entitled Leeds Bradford Airport railway station one of three planned.

This is said.

The proposed new station about one mile (1.6km) from the airport would also act as a park and ride for commuters to Leeds and Harrogate.

I wonder if the trains at Leeds/Bradford Airport will go the last mile? It would need the Leeds-Harrogate Line to be electrified, but it would give the Airport the high-class rail link it needs.

Liverpool Airport

I believe that Merseyrail’s new trains, have the capability to serve Liverpool Airport in the same manner, in which the Glasgow Airport Rail Link could be built and operated.

There are more details here in Thoughts On Merseyrail’s New Trains.


Stadler will sell a lot of these trains to provide links into places like airports and town-centres.



December 20, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments

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