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.
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.
The Crack: One from the Fenton Collection; the Crack (the Editor Will Be Glad to Hear Readers' Views, and to Consider Items for Inclusion in Our Ulster-Scots Column)
Aug 25, 2001; THIS week Ulster-Scots poet James Fenton has kindly agreed to allow The Crack to reproduce one of his poems from his recently...