Community Council hears progress report

Here is the text of the report which was tabled at Community Council on 3rd September:

Royal Burgh of St Andrews Community Council
Rail Sub-Cttee
Report for September meeting of Community Council
Jane Ann Liston
The consultation, begun in May after the presentation of the Tata Report’s findings, has been proceeding throughout the summer. Following points raised at the presentation, a modified version of the optimal route was produced in the middle of August. As can be seen from the website, the changes included the addition of a new road from Guardbridge to the C4, thus maintaining vehicle access from the A91 to Kincaple and Strathkinness, and the realignment of the line at the entrance of St Andrews, removing the need for a viaduct over the Old Guardbridge Road.
Consultation with various groups has taken two forms.
The St Andrews Preservation Trust, St Andrews Partnership, St Andrews Merchants’ Association and Stayinstandrews were contacted by e-mail and invited to respond to the proposals, bearing in mind the following key points.
  • it is estimated that a railway would carry between 385K to 508K passengers per annum,

  • the services proposed are an hourly service to Edinburgh, and an hourly, or perhaps half-hourly, service to Dundee,

  • projected journey times are: (southbound) 81 minutes to Edinburgh Waverley, 69 minutes to the airport interchange, 49 minutes to Dunfermline, 10 minutes to Cupar; (northbound) 22 minutes to Dundee, 16 minutes to Wormit, 6 minutes to Leuchars,

  • approximately 10 minutes of travel time would be saved by not having to change transport modes,

  • it is estimated that 30% of car drivers could switch to rail, and,

  • because new signalling will be required for the new branch line, the semaphore signalling on the main line north of Ladybank will also be upgraded, allowing trains to run more closely together and thus increasing capacity.

As yet no reply has been received from the Preservation Trust. The responses from the other three bodies can be summarised as follows:
  • Partnership: neither pro nor anti, but may change position depending upon other responses. However, are facilitating consultation by inviting FaceBook and Twitter followers to submit responses.
  • Stayinstandrews: welcome investment into infrastructure, but consider project too ambitious and costly to succeed, and train operating companies unlikely to be interested. NB; Scotrail are actually very interested.
  • Merchants: welcome investment in infrastructure but consider money would be much better spent on car-parking provision, perhaps of a multi-storey variety.
It is unfortunate that none of the above organisations have referred to the key points, as their insight would have been invaluable. However, the responses were constructive, albeit cautious, and none was out-and-out hostile.
Other groups have had face-to-face visits from myself and Izzy Cordin. These were held with:
The University of St Andrews, the Old Course Hotel and Guardbridge Community Council.
  • The University (3rd August) was represented by Vice-principal Stephen Magee and Environment & Energy Manager Roddy Yarr. Generally favourable reaction; University has since written to reiterate their commitment to sustainable transport and offering data from forthcoming staff & student travel survey.
  • At the Old Course Hotel (16th August) we saw the General Manager, Daniel Pereira. Again, positive. Only concern mentioned was the effect upon their entrance, which had been identified as an issue to be addressed in the study. Drawing of indicative route to go to their Board meeting, and conclusions will then be submitted.
  • One of the Fife councillors arranged the visit to Guardbridge Community Council (27th August). General conclusion was that it would have very little effect upon village, and any reduction in through traffic would be welcome.
I have also briefed the Fife Council Liberal Democrats and have been invited to speak to North East Fife SNP, probably in October.
There are at least three other organisations who should be seen sooner rather than later.
  • Fife Council; meeting with relevant officers being arranged.
  • Strathkinness Community Council; perhaps one of the Fife councillors could facilitate, as happened in Guardbridge?
  • Links Trust; I understand Henry Paul has agreed to contact them.
That is the state of play so far. Once we have received feedback from these and any other organisations considered necessary, plus held any required events, we should be ready to pass the consultation results to the STAG process. I understand that Scotrail have already been discussing this with SESTRAN.