Forty Years After
Sunday, 04 January 2009
Since 4th January 1969 when the rail connection was severed by British Rail’s cull of branch lines, St Andrews has been at a disadvantage when it comes to being easily accessed by tourists, students and commuters. All too often the alternatives to the car are just not attractive enough. The result of this dependency upon the motor-car can be easily seen in the main streets, which is more than can be said for the historic architecture, all too often obscured by boots and bonnets. Yet the powers that be seem to think that this major tourist destination can be fobbed off with a ‘virtual branch line’. You may well not have realised that this has come into effect but it has, in the shape of telling rail passengers when the buses run to St Andrews and offering them the chance to purchase a combined rail and bus ticket, although this is no cheaper than buying the tickets separately as before. The Scottish Government assures us that this will cut journey times, which shows just how unacquainted they are with the realities of the situation; any traveller could tell them that the buses and trains are already going as fast as they can and the only possibility for cutting journey times is to shorten the period between bus and train at Leuchars, yet no extra buses are being provided, the buses are not a dedicated connecting service and neither is the timetable being amended to fit in better. Passengers will still find themselves waiting in the cold at Leuchars for a bus. This is an insult to St Andrews which deserves to be properly connected to the rail network as before. Forty years in the wilderness for such a major visitor destination and income generator is long enough; if a rail connection is good enough for Bathgate, Alloa and Laurencekirk it is long overdue for St Andrews.