Glasgow Airport Rail Link

Glasgow Airport Rail Link

The Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) is a proposed rail link which will link Glasgow Central station to Glasgow International Airport. The link is due for completion in 2011, with trains running on the route shortly after and will see 4 trains an hour operate between the two stations via Paisley Gilmour Street railway station.


GARL will run from a reconstructed Platform 11a at Glasgow Central on the former Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway, Ayrshire Coast Line and Inverclyde Line; via Cardonald, Hillington East and Hillington West, to Paisley Gilmour Street railway station. There, the line will run along the Inverclyde Line, past Paisley St James railway station, before branching-off onto a new purpose-built 1.2 mile (1.9 km) route which will see the line pass over the M8 motorway into the airport station, which will be situated close to the Main Terminal Building at Glasgow International Airport.

Construction of the link

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 will 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 is progged at £170m, with inflation increasing the cost to a potential £210m. For the link to thrive, a partial reconstruction of Glasgow Central station needs to take place. This will see the existing Platform 11a, which is currently only occupied at peak-times, lengthened into the main train-shed at Glasgow Central. The new Platform 11a will run parallel to where Platform 11 is located, meaning that the in-station parking facilities will have to be moved (these are the current plans for Glasgow Central as stated in the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) document presented to the Scottish Parliament).

The Ayrshire and Inverclyde lines are very busy with Passenger and freight traffic. GARL would only add to this congestion; however to alleviate any problems a third track will be installed between Shields Junction (the main depot for trains running on the SPT network) and Arkleston Junction, east of Paisley. A re-alignment of the track layout at Wallneuk Junction near Paisley Gilmour Street will also be required.

The most controversial proposal in the scheme is to build the line through playing fields in the Paisley St. James area and into Glasgow International Airport. After much discussion, SPT have assured local residents that once the line is built, the playing fields will be returned to original use, with even better facilities such as under-soil drainage and new changing rooms. Using a one-piece bridge design, GARL will cross the M8 motorway and into the Airport. This type of bridge is being used to cause minimal disruption to traffic during the construction process.

The scheme has also been criticised for the absence of direct connections to the rest of the Scottish railway network which would bypass Glasgow Central - historically the two options for doing this have been Glasgow Crossrail and the electrification of the Shotts Line to Edinburgh. In May 2008, First ScotRail announced that the Shotts Line had been route cleared for Class 158 and Class 170 DMU trains to operate on the line and that an increase in services was likely in the near future. Discussions are still on-going with Transport Scotland as to when and how though.

As of May 2008, control of the GARL project had passed from SPT to Transport Scotland who will now oversee the building of the route. Overhead Cantinery and a re-modelling of Shields Junction over the past year have already taken place in connection with GARL. It is expected that construction of the lengthening of Glasgow Central Platform 11a will begin in 2009. The project as a whole now expected to be delivered in 2011 in conjunction with Network Rail's upgrade of Track Signalling systems on the Glasgow to Paisley line. The delay from the original 2009/10 delivery will help passengers as disruption will now be limited to one total upgrade of the line rather than two separate projects in 2yrs. GARL is a vital link in the 2014 Commonwealth games successful bid and will cut delays on the ever congested M8 motorway.

Rolling Stock

First ScotRail currently uses British Rail Class 334 and British Rail Class 318 EMU trains on the Ayrshire Coast Line and the occasional British Rail Class 314 on the Inverclyde Line. In the proposals drawn up by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, British Rail Class 334 units are shown to work the route. However, speculation surrounds actual rolling stock plans for GARL with the likelihood of First ScotRail using 4-car EMUs rather than the traditional 3-car of the 318 or 334 units. First ScotRail currently uses 4-car Class 322 units on its Glasgow Central/Edinburgh Waverley to North Berwick service - themselves ex-airport rail link trains, having been originally built to serve Stansted Airport near London.

In April 2008, First Scotrail placed a bid to tender for a new build of railway carriages for the SPT network of 120 vehicles. These new trains likely to be 4-car sets will operate on the Ayrshire Coast Line and Glasgow Airport services releasing Class 334 units to operate other SPT routes rummoured to be the new Airdrie to Bathgate line in 2010.

On the 11th of 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.


There is no information right now on the planned timetable for GARL services in and out of Glasgow Central. Currently, Ayrshire services run on the 'clockface' timetable, i.e. 00, 15, 30, 45 mins past the hour. A major timetable restructuring of all Ayr, Largs, Gourock and Wemyss Bay services is likely from the start of the Summer 2011 timetable, scheduled for release in May 2011.

External links

* [ SPT project information]
* [ GARL Committee] at the Scottish Parliament
*cite news
title = Costs going like a runaway train
publisher = The Scotsman
url =
accessdate = 2007-10-02

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