The sceptic strikes back, but 'Scottish Field' says 'Yes'

From his latest missive to the Courier, it appears that Mr Chalmers is unaware that Tayplan’s most recent pronouncement is that they cannot include a St Andrews railway because it has not yet gone through the STAG evaluation. He rightly says that, ’an appraisal of all transport options’ is required, and that is precisely what a STAG would do, but it is difficult to see what other option would come even close to providing the standard of service that a train would. He goes on to suggest: some unspecified ‘improvement’ of the road, though it is not clear what that would achieve apart from funnelling more cars into the town; the introduction of hybrid-electric buses, which would be up to the bus companies, but are still buses and as such not attractive to motorists, and more car-parking at Leuchars, restricted to rail users only, though there is no evidence that any but an insignificant number of spaces are occupied by non-rail users, with Leuchars Station being nowhere near any other facility which might be attracting cars in search of a parking place. Also, just like ‘improving’ the road, increasing parking provision is guaranteed to generate more car journeys, with the result that the spaces quickly fill up and we are back to square one again.

What Mr Chalmers fails to appreciate is that people want to travel straight to (and from) St Andrews without the inconvenience of changing modes of transport. Only a new railway service can bring this about.

As for the excellent
Scottish Field piece, it notes in particular that: St Andrews ‘has the unfortunate distinction of being the only university town in the country without a railway line’; that though the bus service from Leuchars is frequent ‘the change adds time and inconvenience to the journey’ and that ‘the increased use of cars - the very reason the line was shut almost half a century ago - is now one of the main reasons that decision should be reversed.’ The increased student and permanent populations are mentioned, as are the daily commuters.

The article also cites the concern of the Scottish Tourist Board chair in 1989 about the ability of St Andrews to cope with the Open, which has grown considerably since, without a railway, as well as the increased number of students, commuters and attraction as a major destination, concluding ‘it’s more important than ever to facilitate a rail link.’

The piece ends, ‘It’s astonishing the St Andrews rail branch was closed in the first place; an unbelievably short-sighted decision, even with the benefit of hindsight. The Tata Steel feasibility study and revised track alignment provide an excellent basis for the reinstatement of a St Andrews line, and with a price tag of £76 million, a fraction of that spent on the Borders, surely it must be re-established soon.’

And who could possibly argue with that?

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