Details of ongoing discussions over a possible tram-train link at Glasgow Airport cannot be made public because it would deter those involved from putting forward “contentious and challenging ideas”, according to a new ruling.
All documents, memos, emails and correspondence relating to the
multi-million pound transport scheme will remain under wraps after
Network Rail concluded that it was “not in the public interest” to
reveal the content of exchanges relating to the Glasgow Airport Access
Project (GAAP), spearheaded by Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils and
Network Rail, while rejecting an appeal under Freedom of Information
laws, said: “We think it likely that the ongoing discussions around the
Glasgow Airport Access Project would be adversely affected by
“It would make those involved in these discussions less willing and
less able to present contentious or challenging ideas since doing so
would open them up to unwarranted public intrusion and ultimately
undermine the integrity of the policy development process.”
The statement contradicts guidelines from the Information
Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which make it clear that it “would not be
reasonable” to withhold information on the basis that its disclosure
would “affect the frankness of unspecified and unrelated discussions in
However, while Network Rail acknowledges the ICO’s stance, it adds
that the “significant and prominence” of the airport project sets it
The refusal comes amid scepticism over the feasibility of a £144m
tram-train hybrid, which would see trams join the main rail network at
Paisley Gilmour Street en route to Glasgow Central.
A Scottish Government-commissioned feasibility study in 2014 warned
that there was “very little spare capacity” at Central to accommodate
the trams and that running them during peak times would require
“significant timetable alterations and extended journey times for other
Solving both problems is a matter for Network Rail, which owns Glasgow Central and manages the nation’s railways.
He added: “It smacks of [there being] so much contention around this
project that it’s as if they don’t want to let it out into the cold
light of day.”
A spokesman for the Campaign for Freedom of Information in Scotland said the non-disclosure decision was open to challenge.
He said: “It is hugely disappointing that, on a subject of major
public concern, which is liable to involve large amounts of public
money, Network Rail think that the public interest is best served by
keeping papers secret.”
Network Rail said it advocated a “comprehensive and transparent” public consultation based on the completed business case.
A spokesman for GAAP said “discussions continue to evolve and no firm decisions have yet been taken”.
He added: “There will, of course, be full public consultations on firm
plans once sufficient information has been developed on taking forward
any of the options currently under consideration.”
Earlier this year Glasgow Airport, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, was awarded Airport Council International Europe’s (ACI Europe)
prestigious Best Airport Award. The “Best Airport, 5-10 million passengers” accolade acknowledged
Glasgow’s focus on enhancing its facilities, improving the passenger
experience and securing a host of new routes and services.
In 2015, Glasgow Airport secured 30 new routes and services
including direct flights to Halifax, Nova Scotia; Budapest, Prague and
Las Vegas. The airport has continued this success into 2016 by launching 16 more new services.