Letter in Citizen

The text of the StARLink convenor’s Citizen letter, entitled ‘Justifiably comparable’, reads as follows:

‘Mr Chalmers of Links Crescent, St Andrews, has, I'm afraid, got it wrong in his letter (25th September). There is clear evidence that the current transport access to St Andrews is woefully inadequate. Whether or not commuters and tourists elsewhere would be perfectly happy with similar arrangements is irrelevant, because, as so many have said, ‘St Andrews is unique’, and therefore requires a bespoke solution rather than a generic one.

For a start there are the students and golfers, whom Mr Chalmers inexplicably omitted to mention, meaning many more journeys in and out of the town than its population alone would suggest. From the overflowing car-park and the abundance of empty bus seats, it is clear that buses and taxis are in general unacceptable to the half million passengers per year who use Leuchars, most of whom are going to and from St Andrews. As for the planned hundred new parking spaces, half of these are already accounted for by the four dozen or so cars regularly parked up the side of the road.

For Mr Chalmers’ information, far from ‘jumping on a publicity bandwagon’, StARLink was contacted by national newspapers and the BBC, who considered St Andrews to be an obvious candidate for the next rail re-opening. We are drawing inspiration from the Campaign for a Borders Railway’s success, as we are from Alloa’s. Incidentally it is misleading to describe the Borders line as simply ‘re-opening a disused line’; much of it had to be recreated from scratch, with 42 new bridges being built, another 95 being refurbished, spoil heaps being cleared, mine-workings filled in, tunnels repaired and a dozen or so houses demolished. Also, as 5 of the 30 miles were laid on a new alignment, the Borders line included the construction of the equivalent of a new St Andrews railway, so it is perfectly justifiable to compare the two schemes.

StARLink welcomes even opposing views, as they give us an opportunity to engage with people. However it has to be said that detractors seem to be a few lone voices, in comparison with the large number of our supporters. Our Facebook page was only launched two months ago, yet it has already attracted well over 400 followers.

It should be remembered that the St Andrews branch line was closed in the wake of the opening of the new Forth and Tay Road Bridges, when private motoring was seen as the way ahead. This is no longer the case, as we now recognise that unfettered car use has resulted in increased traffic congestion, pressure on car-parking spaces and a backlog of road repairs, as well as causing pollution and contributing to climate change. Add to that the volatility of the price of oil and its diminishing supply, plus the increase in the town’s population, both permanent and transient, and it is clear that the current situation is unsustainable.

However, should Mr Chalmers have an alternative suggestion as to how we can facilitate the conveyance of an increasing number of tourists, commuters, golfers and students in and out of St Andrews which will as effectively decarbonise, decongest and depollute, and which would be as readily appealing to these groups as a direct rail link, we should be interested to hear it.’