Channel Tunnel engineers unveil plans for high-speed monorail to Glasgow Airport

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mbreckers

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Channel Tunnel engineers unveil plans for high-speed monorail to Glasgow Airport

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/...peed_monorail_to_Glasgow_Airport/?ref=mr&lp=3

A RETIRED engineer who helped design the Channel Tunnel has drawn up plans for a seven-mile monorail linking Glasgow Airport to the city centre in the latest bid to solve the hub's transport conundrum.

Jim Beckett, 78, and brother John, 77, a retired mechanical engineer, believe a monorail incorporating stops at Renfrew, Braehead shopping centre, the new Queen Elizabeth University hospital in Govan, the Riverside transport museum and SECC en route to Glasgow Central offers wider benefits than a proposed tram-train.

They have spent the last seven months researching and drawing up the plans which they hope will inspire transport bosses.

Their 12km (7.5 mile) 'Clyde Monorail' design, estimated to cost £300 million, would allow passengers to travel end-to-end in 18 minutes at speeds of up to 50mph, but they insist the real bonus would come from appealing to non-airport passengers such as hospital staff commuting to work and by extending a mass transit line to previously neglected communities such as Renfrew.

Jim Beckett, the design director responsible for electrical and instrumentation systems on the UK half of the Channel Tunnel , said the favoured tram-train link "doesn't add anything" to the region's transport infrastructure.

He said: "It's heralded as the flagship project for the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal, but our contention is that that does nothing for the wider transport infrastructure because you're limiting it to the passengers that are generated by the airport.

"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.

"People coming from the centre of Glasgow to the Queen Elizabeth hospital can jump on the monorail. If someone is going from Glasgow Airport to the BBC, they can jump on the monorail, get off at the SECC, cross the bridge and they're at Pacific Quay - or the Science Centre, the STV studios, the Armadillo.

"There is much more traffic generated by this proposal than would ever be generated by the tram-train airport link."

The hybrid scheme, backed by Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils and expected to cost £144m, would see tramcars running from the airport terminal on a newly-constructed light rail line into Paisley, where it would join the existing heavy rail infrastructure and continue direct to Glasgow Central.

It was recommended by independent consultants in 2014 as the best surface access solution for the airport, which can currently only be reached by road, following the controversial axing of the heavy rail GARL project in 2009.

However, critics insist it would be poorly used and hampered by a lack of spare capacity at Glasgow Central.

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 - meaning it could be routed along the centre of existing roads with minimal disruption to traffic.

However, most of their 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.

It would stop at a specially-constructed monorail station parallel to Central Station bridge, with a walkway running to platform 15 inside and access to and from the Broomielaw.

Monorail networks are becoming increasingly common internationally. The world's largest monorail, the 52-mile and 64-stop Chongqing monorail in China, began operating in 2005.

Mr Beckett added: "I know [£300m] is a big number to swallow, but £144m for 2km of tram track? I don't think that would excite people coming out of Glasgow Airport. If they were on a monorail, it gives them a fairly scenic view coming into Glasgow. I think that would be a plus."

Not that familiar with monorail technology (except for what I learned from The Simpsons lol), better than the tram-train proposal?
 
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najaB

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Not that familiar with monorail technology (except for what I learned from The Simpsons lol), better than the tram-train proposal?
Mandatory YouTube link:
[youtube]ZDOI0cq6GZM[/youtube]
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I like the idea. It will provide all the benefits of the wider Clyde tram network proposed in several threads, with much less disruption during construction.
 

Altnabreac

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I like the idea. It will provide all the benefits of the wider Clyde tram network proposed in several threads, with much less disruption during construction.

The route broadly makes sense. The technology less so.

Why invest heavily in that corridor but have a completely isolated system that doesn't free up any capacity.

First we apply an enthusiast generated scheme optimism bias rate of 200% and the true cost is at least £1Bn.

Then you think well an elevated solution might work from SECC down to Renfrew but I suspect you'll struggle to access Central station in a way that is acceptable to city chiefs and planners so you'll end up tunnelling 2km anyway at which point we are back at the Cross City Tunnel idea for similar money and much bigger benefits.

If ground level access is easier then you're better off with tram train in town then using an elevated route west of the SECC.

Non starter I'm afraid.
 

najaB

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The route broadly makes sense. The technology less so.

Why invest heavily in that corridor but have a completely isolated system that doesn't free up any capacity.
Because it meets a need, sometimes that is enough. It gets local passengers where they need to be and transfers to the wider network can be made step-free at Central. Tram/train solutions would likely require a change at Central anyway and grander schemes that free up capacity (or create it) on heavy-rail either cost too much or don't provide enough benefit.

First we apply an enthusiast generated scheme optimism bias rate of 200% and the true cost is at least £1Bn.
I know it's dangerous to compare costs between countries with different regulatory environments, but the Mumbai metro has cost around £40M/km so £500M for 12km is believable.

Then you think well an elevated solution might work from SECC down to Renfrew but I suspect you'll struggle to access Central station in a way that is acceptable to city chiefs and planners so you'll end up tunnelling 2km anyway at which point we are back at the Cross City Tunnel idea for similar money and much bigger benefits.
That is a potential stumbling block, but not insurmountable. The 'futuristic' look of a monorail may help here as they are undeniably *very* sexy (c.f. video linked above!)
If ground level access is easier then you're better off with tram train in town then using an elevated route west of the SECC.
That's a very big if.
 

47271

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A creative idea that should be at least looked at, but it seems a bit far fetched to me.

I don't know anything about building monorails - in the same way as I didn't know anything about building parliaments when they started on Holyrood, or tram networks when they started in Edinburgh - but £300m doesn't look anything like enough.
 

clc

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What would a monorail achieve that a standard tram line wouldn't? You could build a tram line for £300m, just get the Manchester team on it.
 

najaB

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What would a monorail achieve that a standard tram line wouldn't? You could build a tram line for £300m, just get the Manchester team on it.
Air rights are cheaper than ground rights and, other than personal jetpacks, there is is a lot less conflicting traffic to worry about.

You also have full three-dimensional freedom when designing alignments, without being constrained by the lay of the land.
 

clc

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A tram has the advantage of being able to connect to both terminal stations which a monorail could never do. Even if the council allowed it to run along the Broomielaw (which I doubt) they'd never consent to a concrete viaduct cutting through the core conservation area.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
other than personal jetpacks, there is is a lot less conflicting traffic to worry about.
.

:lol:
 

najaB

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A tram has the advantage of being able to connect to both terminal stations which a monorail could never do.
But on the flip side has the disadvantage of being subject to the vagaries of surface traffic in street running.
 

NotATrainspott

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The prospective tram route out to the Airport is pretty suitable. There's no through traffic because of the motorways and expressways, so traffic problems caused by construction and operation would be minimal. This being the case means that a tram is pretty much as efficient as it can be.
 

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I don't have a view on monorails, but three thoughts do come to mind:

1. If we want to construct a new, dedicated link between the airport terminal and the City Centre, is Central Station the most effective destination?

2. If we are content that a new, dedicated link will connect effectively with the rail network but need not itself be a rail link, then alternative modes seem worthy of evaluation.

3. If we agree with 1 & 2, then there is infrastructure in place, on water, between the airport and Central Station, in the form of Cart Burn and the Clyde.

Now I don't know much about boats, but I'd wonder if comfortable and convenient moorings could be constructed which are immune from the worst of Glasgow's weather and the tides on the Clyde, and suitable for air travellers luggage? I know that a new escalator to Central Station from Clyde Street would be popular anyway.
A river taxi journey of around 13kms wouldn't suit everyone, but might benefit enough travellers.

Where the monorail suggestion does appeal is in its potential to connect the airport and City Centre to Braehead, the QE hospital and the SECC; these do seem to offer some new travel opportunities which would benefit significant numbers throughout the day. Though these too are on the river (almost), and could be served by boat on the existing infrastructure.

But if a new monorail was to be constructed, then I say continue the rail up Buchannan Street and achieve a direct connection between the two terminal stations and the airport. That would deliver a radical improvement in Scottish connectivity.
A tram has the advantage of being able to connect to both terminal stations which a monorail could never do. Even if the council allowed it to run along the Broomielaw (which I doubt) they'd never consent to a concrete viaduct cutting through the core conservation area.
Perhaps not, but the solution to some challenges are worth pursuing relentlessly, and the disconnect between Q.St, and Central stations and the airport seems to be one of those challenges.
 
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mbreckers

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Unfortunate use of the colour red in the logo used for this
 

clc

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It would be helpful if we knew what the long term plan was for addressing Glasgow's rail needs. We know it could be either a cross city tunnel with sub surface station somewhere in the city centre; or a new surface terminal station in the St Enoch/Argyle St area; or a metro system; or some combination of the above. If it's decided that a tunnel is the way forward then an airport tram train becomes less ideal as it's not suitable for the longer direct journeys which a tunnel could facilitate. For that you'd need to revisit GARL.
 

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It would be helpful if we knew what the long term plan was for addressing Glasgow's rail needs. We know it could be either a cross city tunnel with sub surface station somewhere in the city centre; or a new surface terminal station in the St Enoch/Argyle St area; or a metro system; or some combination of the above. If it's decided that a tunnel is the way forward then an airport tram train becomes less ideal as it's not suitable for the longer direct journeys which a tunnel could facilitate. For that you'd need to revisit GARL.

Or Personal Rapid Transit from Paisley Gilmour Street.
 
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Sydney, Australia, abandoned its monorail in 2013 in favour of light-rail. It operated in a similiar urban environment to Glasgow, although over a somewhat shorter route. It was regarded as a blot on the landscape, poorly integrated with other transport modes, inflexible and expensive to operate. The initial contruction cost (in 1988) was some 40% over a convential tram system. Personally I think the heavy-rail solution to Central was the best plan and it would have been operational by now if the SNP had not cancelled it. The requisite land has now been sold. Glasgow has been here berefore, of course, with the Bennie Railplane at Milngavie in the 1930s and that didn't get very far either!
 

najaB

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Sydney, Australia, abandoned its monorail in 2013 in favour of light-rail.
If I understand it correctly, the main problem with the Sydney monorail was that it operated as a single loop in one direction only so a 'wrong way' trip took much longer than necessary. That design also made it harder to extend the system, much like it's proving difficult to extend the Glasgow subway.
 

clc

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Sydney, Australia, abandoned its monorail in 2013 in favour of light-rail. It operated in a similiar urban environment to Glasgow, although over a somewhat shorter route. It was regarded as a blot on the landscape, poorly integrated with other transport modes, inflexible and expensive to operate. The initial contruction cost (in 1988) was some 40% over a convential tram system. Personally I think the heavy-rail solution to Central was the best plan and it would have been operational by now if the SNP had not cancelled it. The requisite land has now been sold. Glasgow has been here berefore, of course, with the Bennie Railplane at Milngavie in the 1930s and that didn't get very far either!

The sale of the land wouldn't necessarily be an issue as there is an alternative route identified in Transport Scotland's Tram-Train Feasibility Study. The study stated there was a viable heavy rail route approaching from the east right up to the south east corner of Terminal 2. It would leave the mainline at Arkleston and follow the solum of the old Renfrew branch (largely unobstructed) and cross the Cart on a new skewed viaduct near the M8. Line speeds would be around 60 mph along the branch as far as the White Cart bridge dropping to around 40 mph on the airport approach. This would provide a non stop journey time of 10-11 minutes.
 

mark-h

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If I understand it correctly, the main problem with the Sydney monorail was that it operated as a single loop in one direction only so a 'wrong way' trip took much longer than necessary. That design also made it harder to extend the system, much like it's proving difficult to extend the Glasgow subway.

That was the case (confirmed by an article on the Monorail society website). The equivalent would be the Glasgow Subway only running one of its tracks.

The monorail system would probably require evacuation walkways to keep the ORR happy- this would make the visual impact worse (and closer to a more traditional system).

-----

I think access from Queen Street and Central to Glasgow airport would be a lot more useful than from Central only as most of the services from Eastern/Central/Northern Scotland end up at Queen Street.
 

gsnedders

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I think access from Queen Street and Central to Glasgow airport would be a lot more useful than from Central only as most of the services from Eastern/Central/Northern Scotland end up at Queen Street.

Especially given it's uphill to Queen Street, and given plenty of people to/from the airport have luggage…
 

theageofthetra

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Could a Glasgow local explain why just building a modern subway/metro would be so difficult there? As much as I love the history and years of service of the subway,its an historical relic that unless rebored to take conventional/accessable stock is a non-starter. It is due to rock/sand or other geological issues? Could they not go to the contractors who have built the brand new subway systems to a uniform design in many Chinese cities and get a quote?
 

Altnabreac

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Could a Glasgow local explain why just building a modern subway/metro would be so difficult there? As much as I love the history and years of service of the subway,its an historical relic that unless rebored to take conventional/accessable stock is a non-starter. It is due to rock/sand or other geological issues? Could they not go to the contractors who have built the brand new subway systems to a uniform design in many Chinese cities and get a quote?

I think one of the main reasons a Metro solution Is unlikely to work in Glasgow is that there is relatively little for it to serve.

Glasgow is a decent sized but not enormous city by world standards. The central business district is convenient for existing stations and has gap sites available for development.

The existing subway does a good job of linking the west end (the main secondary employment centre) to the central business district.

The existing railway network has good penetration of the city centre and provides cross city services on an east west axis.

Other secondary employment sites (Southside, East End, SECC, Maryhill have access to the rail network already.

Nearly all major housing areas have access to the existing railway network and services into the centre of Glasgow.

So there is just not a whole lot of areas in Glasgow to connect to a Metro to generate traffic.

Most proposals look to try and alleviate the remaining transport weaknesses which are:
Lack of NE-SW cross city services
Lack of airport access
Poor access to 2 major hospitals (GRI and QEUH)
Relatively poor access to Clydeside Creative quarter
Poor access to some residential areas like Gorbals, Parkhead, Sighthill, Keppochhill etc.

But these areas are probably not generating enough demand to justify a full metro scheme so much more likely is a rail scheme either tram train or in tunnel which connects to the existing network.
 

NotATrainspott

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Proper underground metro systems are also only worthwhile once you reach a certain level of population density. The way that Glasgow has been developed after the war has meant that it has lost that density, so any underground system would be sub-optimal. It's a similar story in most British cities which is only starting to be reversed now.

If money is to be spent on a metro system for the city, it would be best spend on a tram network since it would be possible to serve much more of the city with the same amount of capital expenditure. Since densities aren't too high, the trams wouldn't be overcrowded, and the road network could handle trams reasonably well on most major corridors.
 

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The following letter to be publlished in The Herald on 1 June calls into question the basis upon which the 'flagship' Tram-Train project has been calculated

Sir,

While it would be easy to criticise the proposed monorail serving Glasgow Airport (The Herald, 30/05/16), the efforts of the Beckett brothers deserve much more than that. What the proposal does tell us is that, as many know, the current toy-town plan of a yet to be proven “Tram-Train” is so full of holes that there is bound to be an ongoing questioning of what really does provide the optimum transport solution not just for the Airport but for the south-west conurbation.

A detailed analysis of the “Tram-Train” shows that basic elements (such as a depot) have not even been allowed for. Add that to the design where the tram emerges from a tunnel under the A726 to take on an immediate 90 degree turn before tackling an incline of at least 1 in 8 where it then has to enter a power neutral zone, will make for a spectacular roller coaster ride but perhaps not a 21st century mass transit system. Still, that doesn’t stop masses of public money being spent on studies, consultations and of course the all important field trips.

The sorry truth is that while the need for significant transport improvements to and through Glasgow (including Crossrail) is widely recognised, petty politics have engulfed the entire process. The matter of an Airport connection has now been kicked into the long grass. The earliest improvement of any form is now ten years away and meanwhile the bosses at Glasgow Airport continue to collect their car park revenues while denying any responsibility for congestion in and around its environs.

Yours sincerely,

William Forbes
 
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PaxVobiscum

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I would stongly advise the removal of the name and address. The internet has a bigger circulation than the Herald. (Does it publish all the readers' letters on its website?) Still, it seems ill advised to make a gift of fruit to the data harvesters.
 
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yorkie

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Just a reminder that our Forum Rules do include:

  • If referring to an external source you should put the text in QUOTE tags (
    ), provide details of the source and make a relevant comment to promote discussion.
I have edited the above post to comply with this, and if anyone spots a post that doesn't, please use the report button. Thanks.

I would stongly advise the removal of the name and address. The internet has a bigger circulation than the Herald. (Does it publish all the readers' letters on its website?) Still, it seems ill advised to make a gift of fruit to the data harvesters.
Yes, it's published in The Herald. There's no need for it here so I reduced the quote not to include it, but the suggestion needs to go to The Herald really.

Anyway back to the topic in hand now ... :)
 
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