Prestwick International Airport
Located on Scotland’s West Coast, approximately 28-miles south west of Glasgow as the crow flies, the running of Prestwick Airport was taken over from the British Airports Authority (BAA) by a private group of Scottish investors on 1st April 1992 (ref: The Ayrshire Post, 30th April 1993). The investor group went by the name “PIK Limited” and, in 1993, the future looked bright: a holiday market generating a summer passenger traffic of 50,000 was envisaged for 1994; the airport’s second runway was to be recommissioned; and £2,000,000 was to be invested by PIK, local authorities, and ScotRail, on a dedicated railway station. A rail travel scheme was planned, which would allow anyone flying in or out of Prestwick to travel to/from anywhere on the Scottish railway network for free (ref: The Ayrshire Post, 30th April 1993).
It was expected that Prestwick Airport’s railway station would be completed in time for summer 1994 (ref: The Ayrshire Post, 30th April 1993). However, formal opening did not occur until Monday, 5th September 1994, and Prestwick Airport became the first privately-built railway station since nationalisation (ref: The Scotsman, 6th September 1994). Until that time, connecting buses had linked the airport with Prestwick Town station. The airport station had cost £2,500,000 to become a reality; a loan of £1,000,000 and grant of £500,000 had been provided by Strathclyde Regional Council towards this sum (ref: The Scotsman, 6th September 1994).
Located approximately 3½-route miles north of Ayr, two concrete platforms of about 430-feet (130-metres) length were brought into use either side of a double-track at Prestwick Airport. A covered and carpeted footbridge, called “The Skywalk” by PIK, was built to link the station and terminal, and the site was served by half-hourly trains on the Glasgow to Ayr route (ref: The Scotsman, 6th September 1994). A footbridge between the platforms, equipped with lifts, covered stairs and escalators, was linked to “The Skywalk”. Whilst the free rail travel scheme was not pursued, those individuals travelling to Prestwck Airport could go by train from anywhere in Scotland for £5 (ref: Stirling Observer, 5th October 1994).
In the April 2010 edition of The Railway Magazine, it was reported that a £20,000,000 infrastructure scheme had commenced to extend platforms at a series of stations in Ayrshire and Inverclyde. This included lengthening the surfaces at Prestwick International Airport station; additionally, other stations were also set to receive improved lighting, CCTV, and public address systems as part of the same funding grant.
With coal hoppers in tow, Class 66 No. 66090 passes northbound through Prestwick International Airport. On the far left can be seen the continuation of the footbridge, known as “The Skywalk”, that links the station with the airport terminal. Note the “PIK” logo at the top of the footbridge tower on the left.
© David Glasspool Collection