One for, one against

The text of the letters in the Courier from John Munro and Jane Ann Liston can be found at:

4th and 5th letters down.

Mr Munro begins by accusing those in favour of a rail link of wanting 'others to pay for it'. Yet surely transport infrastructure, rail and roads, is usually paid for out of general taxation? He then follows it with the old chestnut 'the funds needed could be better spent' - I daresay that can always be argued, but it's a recipe for inertia. In fact a railway could help his preferred uses for the money 'dealing with chronic ill-health and poverty' by reducing road traffic and its harmful emissions and boosting the economy.

Mr Munro then dismisses the traffic and car-parking problems of St Andrews as 'minor,' in comparison with those of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, Oxford and Cambridge. Those cities, however, are considerably bigger than St Andrews.

It appears that Mr Munro is not very familiar with the proposals for a St Andrews railway when he asserts, 'few if any direct trains would run between Dundee, St Andrews and Edinburgh.' On the contrary, that is exactly what is proposed; an hourly service to Edinburgh via Cupar, Dunfermline, and the airport interchange and an hourly or even half-hourly service via Leuchars to Dundee. He also appears unaware that extra car-parking, should it be required, is also catered for in the Tata report.

Mr Munro's solution is for St Andrews to build lots of houses on the green belt, of which it appears he does not approve, so that people can live within walking or cycling distance of their work. Yet, earlier he said that it was unlikely that 'many commuters would choose train rather than car. They would have to walk or take a taxi from the new station and it would cost much more.' Funny how building houses on the green belt would enable people to cycle to work, yet commuters would have to take a taxi home! But his remarks about housing suggest his unfamiliarity with St Andrews, because in recent years very many new houses have been built, and still people have to commute in. And it has been observed that car drivers are willing to use a rail service where one exists; surely not even Mr Munro believes that the thousands of passengers, several times more than predicted, using recent openings such as Alloa and the Borders are all former bus users?

He claims that 'St Andrews has many elderly or disabled residents who have bus passes and would continue to use buses.' I'm not sure what evidence he has to substantiate that one. Disabled people frequently prefer trains to buses for a start, and trains to and from North Berwick, much smaller than St Andrews but also with a fair share of elderly residents, are very well used indeed.

Mr Munro's apparent antipathy towards railways is most obvious in his closing paragraph, where he dismisses comparisons with Alloa and the Borders because 'the former was built mainly to carry coal' - yes, but there are 4 times as many passengers as was predicted - and 'the latter has yet to prove itself', citing the Audit Commission as saying the Borders 'offers poor value for public money.' He must be the only person who has not noticed that the new Waverley line is a tremendous success, and so will the new St Andrews one.