Responses to Citizen; Naysayers but also support

Mr Allan Chalmers wrote as follows:

‘I read with concern that STARLINK continues irs campaign to obtain public funding for a project St Andrews does not need.

A report published back in April 2012 by the Strategic Planning Authority for North Fife (TAYplan) and subsequently approved by Scottish Ministers concluded that there should be no reference to a St Andrews rail link in TAYplan proposals as it was no longer an option. This was on the grounds of cost and practicability and the existing provision of frequent bus services linking St Andrews to Leuchars mainline station. Do the supporters and backers of this campaign consider a 10-15 minute bus journey between St Andrews and Leuchars to be an inconvenience? Commuters in other towns and cities would be delighted to have such a convenient and short journey time to and from their nearest mainline station. It must also be of significance that back in September 2012 the Citizen reported: “St Andrews Links Trust has come down strongly against the route of a rail link into the university town, amid concerns that it would impact on the local golf courses and other facilities”.

Surely the rail campaigners need to realise that there is no feasible route for a completely new rail link to St Andrews which is what this would be. It is not the re-opening of a closed line.

I understand that should further investigations proceed, these will have to be carried out under Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) in which case ALL transport options would need to be considered and not just rail.

Therefore may I once again suggest that a cheaper and more practicable project would be to upgrade the main road between St Andrews and Guardbridge (dual carriageway or dedicated bus lane for example) together with improvements to the car parking facilities and access arrangements at Leuchars station, making use of the available ground at that location.

The local bus service is a well managed and efficient form of public transport connecting all parts of St Andrews and the surrounding rural community to Leuchars Station.

What more do we need and what can we realistically afford?

As TAYplan has already concluded it is certainly not a costly and impracticable rail link.’

A reply addressing the most pertinent points in Mr Chalmers’ letter has been submitted and it is hoped it will be printed in the next issue on 5th December.

However there was a more positive reaction to the Railfuture Scotland proposals on the Citizen’s Facebook page:

(scroll down to 21st November to find the comments)

20 people ‘liked’ the story, though a Mr Walter G. Smith plaintively asked,

‘How many years is this futile campaign to go on?’

and Neil McIntyre wanted to know

‘how can they put a line into St Andrews and where will they put the station?’

A possible answer to the last question can be found
here with the revised alignment here.

Ironically, the question of Leuchars car-park has been raised in the past few days, with 290 people having been fined for parking outwith the designated spaces since April, and up to 50 people regularly parking along Station Road all the way from the access bridge to the junction with Toll Road. It is not at all unusual for potential rail passengers to be unable to find a space in time to catch their train. This would suggest that the bus service is not at all an attractive option for everybody. Fife Council has agreed to create another 100 spaces, but there are issues with the price the land-owner wants for the land. Once expanded, a charge will be levied but at £1, compared with a return bus-fare of about £5, this is unlikely to deter those St Andrews under-60s at least from driving to the station. And it will certainly not dissuade those drivers from Dundee or further afield who are avoiding higher parking charges in Dundee, as well as, if travelling south, getting a cheaper railway ticket.