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.

Glasgow Times:

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.

Glasgow Times:

"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.

Glasgow Times:

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."