SNP ministers are anticipating the Clyde metro project to cost up to £16bn – with details over the route and timescales potentially to be revealed after a crunch meeting later this month.
The Scottish Government included plans for a metro system or the Glasgow areas as a priority in their latest strategic investment blueprint for transport.
But concerns have been raised over a lack of clarity over what the project will look like in reality and when the first part of the metro, thought to be an airport link, could be completed.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth told MSPs that the metro project “will be transformational for the city of Glasgow”.
She added: ”It is of national significance and it is one of this Government’s strategic priorities.”
Labour MSP for Glasgow, Pauline McNeill, pressed the minister for answers over the funding and timescales of the proejct.
She said: “Last September, (Glasgow) council leader Suan Aitken confirmed that the metro was part of the plan to decarbonise Glasgow and indicated that it was a multi-billion-pound project which will be funded in part by private investment.
“Last month, we learned that there is no final design for the metro, no dates attached to completion and no known funding
“When we’re going to see genuine progress on this matter? Is there a timetable for the first phase which I understand is the airlink?”
Ms Gilruth stressed that “it’s really important that we get this right”.
She said: “There are a number of recommendations that look at mass transit projects and this project itself can provide an opportunity for transformational change, particularly for poorer communities.
“Early estimates costs of the metro project is of the order of between £11bn and £16bn, based on the outturn costs of other comparable projects – with a timescale of 25 to 35 years to complete.”
The minister added: “It is going to need longer-term political leadership and a new approach to delivery. That delivery model has not yet been agreed.
“The chief executive of Transport Scotland will be meeting this month with the programme steering group. I would very much hope that at that meeting, we can get the timescales.”
Tory transport spokesperson Graham Simpson, pointed to initial diagrams of the proposed route of the metro, warning “it’s all rather vague”.
He said: “There is kind of a random squiggle coming out to East Kilbride with a loop round the town. I’m not sure where that is or what exactly the route is.
“When are we going to get some level of detail on this?”
Ms Gilruth acknowledged the specific route “has yet to be decided”, adding that “it’s going to look at a vast range of transport modes”.
She said: “I don’t want to pre-judge the outcome of the initial meeting which is happening later this month with the programme steering group.
“I would hope we would get further clarity on detail on some of those specifics at that meeting later this month.”