£300m monorail dismissed as ‘not viable’
Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils have dismissed the idea by a retired engineer who helped design the Channel Tunnel.
Jim Beckett has come up with a scheme for a seven-and-a-half mile ‘Clyde Monorail’ would include stops at Renfrew, Braehead shopping centre, the Queen Elizabeth University hospital in Govan, the Riverside transport museum and SECC before terminating at Glasgow Central station.
By stopping at the SECC it would also link in to Pacific Quay, the Science Centre and the STV and BBC studios.
The £300 million project would involve carriages running at 50 mph, allowing passengers to make the full journey in 18 minutes.
Mr Beckett, 78, the design director responsible for electrical and instrumentation systems on the UK half of the Channel Tunnel, came up with the plan with his brother John, 77. They have spent seven months researching the project.
The preferred proposal – for a tram and train link – would see trams running from the airport terminal on a newly-constructed light rail line into Paisley, where they would join the existing heavy rail infrastructure and continue direct to Glasgow Central.
This scheme, costing £144m, was recommended by independent consultants in 2014 as the best surface access solution for the airport.
Mr Beckett said the tram scheme – seen as the flagship project for the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal – is too dependent on airport traffic. His scheme would link with other destinations on the route.
“If you ran it north and picked up places like Renfrew, the Braehead shopping centre, the Queen Elizabeth hospital, the transport museum, and the SECC, then you are going to generate an awful lot more business for it,” he said.
He added: “There is much more traffic generated by this proposal than would ever be generated by the tram-train airport link.”
Mr Beckett, from Brookfield, near Bridge of Weir, said one of the other major advantages of the monorail was that it would be elevated up to 40 metres (130ft) at some sections. This allows it to be built above existing roads with minimal disruption to traffic during construction or when it is in operation.
Much of the proposed route follows the River Cart and River Clyde and would be constructed over riverbeds and unused land, limiting the need for compulsory purchase orders.
Those behind the City Deal say it is “an interesting idea” but “not viable” and they are sticking to their plan for a tram and train link.