THE row over the scrapping of a planned rail link to Glasgow Airport has re-ignited the debate over whether the city needs one.

Several cities used as a benchmark with Glasgow have a rail service linking their city centre with the airport. 

Many others don’t.

Some critics of the decision to scrap the latest plan have stated that Glasgow is the only city of its size not to have an airport rail link.

Meanwhile the leader of the council has said direct links are unusual, citing Heathrow, the busiest airport in Europe, as the notable exception.

Writing in today’s Evening Times, Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “Very few airports operate direct services to their city centres.”

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said the pod link to Paisley Gilmour Street the nearest train station to the airport – almost two miles away – was a “Toytown solution to a serious problem”.

The Evening Times has looked at European cities acknowledged to be Glasgow’s comparator cities and how the airport is accessible from the city centre.

We also looked at three cities in Europe whose airports have a similar number of passengers and which serve a similar population, Lyon in France, Porto in Portugal and Stuttgart in Germany could be looked at.

Lyon has 11m passengers, Porto has 12m and Stuttgart also handles 12m.

All three have direct rail links to the city centre.

The  Lyon Express Tram runs every 15 minutes takes 30 minutes to the centre.
Stuttgart Airport to the city is direct on the S-bhan lines 2 and 3 and the Porto Metro line runs services every 20mins.

The 10 benchmarking cities as mentioned in the Business of Cities report are Bilbao, in Spain, Rotterdam in Netherlands, Dortmund, Dusseldorf and Cologne in Germany, Lille in France, Gothenburg and Malmo in Sweden, Turin in Italy and Gdansk in Poland.

The cities looked at based on more comparable population and passenger numbers were Lyon, in France, Porto in Spain and Stuttgart in Germany.

Five of the comparator cities have rail links and five do not. All three of those similar by population and passengers have direct rail links.

Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Turin and Gdansk all have a direct train, tram or metro to the airport.

In Dortmund, the Airport Express from Central Station takes 25 minutes and costs 8.50 euros for a one-way ticket. There is also an airport shuttle to nearby Holzwickede station and two bus services.

In Dusseldorf there is a major rail station which is connected by the SkyTrain, a fully automatic cabin railway.

The airport is also connected by the S-Bhan urban rail network to the city’s Central Station.
Cologne has the Intercity Express train station at the terminal.

In, Turin in the north of Italy, the airport rail station is linked to Dora Station in the city taking under 20 minutes operating between 5 am and 11pm.

In Gdansk, the train station at Lech Walesa Airport is linked to the city centre ten miles away by train.

The other five European cities benchmarked against Glasgow however, are, like Glasgow, only accessible by car, taxi or bus.

In Bilbao, in northern Spain, the 3247 bus runs every 20 minutes to the city centre.

In Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ second largest city, the airport is connected by a bus service. However, Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam is only 25 minutes by train from Rotterdam Central station. 

In Lille, the airport shuttle bus runs to the main shopping centre every 20 minutes.

In Sweden, Malmo Flygbussarna Airport Coaches connect the city to the airport. Similarly in Gothenburg buses take 20 minutes from the country’s second biggest airport to the city centre.

However, only Cologne-Bonn Airport handles similar passenger numbers to Glasgow with 12 million a year.

Only Dusseldorf has a higher number, twice as busy as Glasgow at 24m.

The others ranged from 7m, at Gothenburg, to all the others at or below five million a year. In the UK , Manchester and Birmingham have rail links while Liverpool, Bristol and Leeds do not.

While the city is certainly not the  only one in Europe not have a rail link, there are many in a similar position to Glasgow who do.