The GARL (Glasgow Airport Rail Link) must not be axed, say business leaders, after it was shelved on September 27th 2009. In the Draft Scottish Budget, it was announced that the GARL project would be abandoned in favour of improving existing infrastructure, saving the government around £120 million in construction fees.
Local executives have reacted angrily to the decision, believing that the GARL is the only way to save Glasgow Airport from financial oblivion. The Abbotsinch site endured the worst of the recent recession, and recently closed its second terminal to cut losses over the winter season. Budget airline EasyJet took umbrage with the decision.
A letter from the Chamber of Commerce to the Financial Secretary accused the Scottish government of having “priorities lying elsewhere” and forcing a “backwards step” for local businesses. Officials cited a £500 million downsizing in Scotland’s budget for the decision, but capitalists fear that much more money could be lost from the government’s vault if access to Glasgow Airport is not improved.
Job losses and a steady rise in traffic jams (especially in the area between Paisley and Abbotsinch) could further exacerbate the city’s problems, encouraging investors to head north to Edinburgh or south of the border into England.
GARL could have produced 1,300 direct jobs, and helped Glasgow compete with fellow BAA airport Edinburgh. The Chambers of Commerce are concerned that Scotland’s economy could stagnate without continued investment in transport infrastructure. Improvements to the M74 and M80 motorways, and the construction of a new hospital, are thought to supersede the GARL project.