Green light for £40m Fastlink
Published by Simon Gwynn on Sat 09 Jun 12 @ 22:11
Glasgow's Fastlink transport scheme has finally been given the green light from the Scottish Government.
Today it has been confirmed that £40m will be allocated to the project, which runs from the city centre to key venues along the banks of the River Clyde.
Government ministers had said for the last two years they would make a contribution, but were awaiting the final business case from SPT before an official decision was made.
Last month the Evening Times showed details of the final route proposed by SPT, which will include both the major rail stations and bus station in the city centre and out to the SECC on the north bank of the Clyde and across the 'squinty bridge' to the new Southern General Hospital on the south.
Plans remain for an extension to the Riverside Museum and to Braehead, and discussions are being held with Renfrewshire Council, but SPT would have to find the cash, estimated at another £20m, for that to go ahead at a later date.
Deputy First Minister and Cities Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, revealed the cash today.She said: "I am delighted to be able to confirm the Scottish Government's £40 million funding contribution for this vital Glasgow project.
"Fastlink will make a real difference to the quality of public transport links in the area as well as provide real economic development opportunities for the many communities along the route.
"It will also provide much better access to the healthcare services at the new South Glasgow Hospital Campus site, and provide another vital transport option for the Commonwealth Games.
"Having received the final business case from SPT and subject to continued reassurance on SPT's work as it develops during the detailed planning and design of the project, our contribution gives the green light to this important public transport initiative."
The final business case specified the route from Buchanan Bus Station to Queen Street Station and Central Station, along the Boomielaw to the SECC, branching off and going over the Clyde Arc 'Squinty bridge' and on to the hospital.
It is hoped the new dedicated busway will make jobs and services at the hospital and along the route more accessible.
Where possible there will be a specific new lane, but where it is on the road the bus lane will be for Fastlink buses only with vehicle registration cameras catching others who ignore the rules.
In 2009, Finance Secretary, John Swinney first said the Scottish Government would make a contribution to Fastlink, to improve transport infrastructure in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games.
He made the commitment during his budget speech that year, when he scrapped the Glasgow Airport Rail Link.
When the Fastlink plan was first suggested, the Scottish Government said they would not be giving any cash to the scheme.
This would have meant West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and SPT would have had to foot the entire bill.
It was only when Swinney scrapped the Airport Rail Link in 2009 that it was decided the government would contribute to Fastlink.
The transport link cuts right through the constituency of Nicola Sturgeon, who has been a vocal supporter of the project. Before the election, she promised to pay for the entire first phase if the SNP were still in power.
First Minister Alex Salmond was also reported to have privately given one Glasgow councillor "personal assurances" that Holyrood would hand over cash to pay for the first phase.
Previous estimates have suggested completing the entire Fastlink project would take up to four years.
Is is hoped that the first phase will completed before the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
In total, Fastlink has been priced at a total of £110m. Originally, it was planned to use 25 flexibuses, which were described as "trams on wheels" and could each carry 140 passengers.