St Andrews Citizen & Fife Herald back campaign

In an article entitled 'Pushing the case for a rail link in St Andrews', the Citizen and Herald reported that StARLink activists had met consultants who had been involved with London Crossrail and the re-opening of the Stirling-Alloa branch, as well as announcing the forthcoming meeting with Transport Scotland. Speaking of these two consultants, StARLink convenor Jane Ann Liston said, 'They have played leading parts in successful projects so they speak with authority which cannot be lightly dismissed.'

Although Transport Scotland admitted that St Andrews does not feature in their 'current investment programme', nevertheless they were 'willing to consider proposals for new stations where there is clear evidence of benefits subject to affordability and a suitable business case being identified.' They also claim that the 'bus link' to Leuchars has become a 'virtual branch line' with a 'full range of tickets' available for purchase at the bus station.

That's all very well, but simply renaming a bus service a 'virtual branch line' without even providing a single extra bus, which is what Transport Scotland did, smacks of smoke and mirrors, a mere fig-leaf to cover an inadequate service. Yes, one can buy a railway ticket at the bus station, but only when the office is open, i.e. 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00 on weekdays, 10:00-12:00 on a Saturday and not at all on a Sunday. Contrary to Transport Scotland's assertions, a combined rail & bus ticket does not reduce journey times, as it does nothing to address the gap between the bus arriving at Leuchars and the train departing, or vice-versa. In fact, if one has to make an extra trip to the bus station to purchase a ticket, because one is setting off outwith the opening times, journey time is actually increased. The combined ticket is also no cheaper than buying the two components separately.

However, securing the meeting with Transport Scotland has been a great achievement, and thanks are due to the First Minister and Willie Rennie MSP for paving the way. Jane Ann Liston said that StARLink intended to ensure that Transport Scotland were made fully aware of the inadequacy of the present arrangements for a destination like St Andrews, and added that the expected outcome would be 'a clear plan on how to take the project to the next level of evaluation and endorsement.'

The editorial, headed, 'Town's clear case for direct rail links' begins, 'It does seem illogical - to say the least - that a town the size and stature of St Andrews has no direct rail link.' It goes on to observe how those attending the Open must be 'slightly puzzled at getting off at Leuchars and then bussing it into town' but that the opening of the Borders line meant 'there is a clear and strong case for St Andrews to be next', describing the post-Beeching closure nearly 50 years ago as 'inexplicable.' It continues by stressing the importance of keeping up the pressure for a railway, saying 'Given its status as a major tourist destination, its renowned university and strong cultural heart, St Andrews has a case to make, and the work being done just now will be vital to its future success.' The column concludes, 'The louder the town shouts, the more it might be heard by the politicians who will, ultimately, have the final decision.'