'Unnecessary, costly project'

In his letter to the St Andrews Citizen Mr Allan Chalmers, who has expressed similar views upon previous occasions, suggests as a ‘cheaper and more practical’ solution the dualling of the main road between St Andrews and Guardbridge, or installing a dedicated bus lane, as well as improving, i.e. increasing, the car-park at Leuchars as well as the station access. Mr Chalmers further goes on to suggest that to reduce the carbon footprint, which the aforesaid measures would be likely to increase, the Green Bus Fund could supply hybrid-electric buses.

The above is all very well, and one hopes that Mr Chalmers will be making these proposals when the STAG exercise is carried out. However, dualling the A91 only as far as Guardbridge would result in a bottleneck, as the road would remain single-carriageway for the next 20 miles until the M90. One would really have to dual the whole 25 miles to the Arlary junction, which would cost very much more than 5 miles of singletrack railway. And of course the evidence from all over is that measures which provide more space for cars, such as dualling or increasing car-parking spaces, actually generates more car use, with the resulting increase in emissions and environmental damage. Not to mention the extreme reluctance of motorists to use any sort of bus, even green ones.

Mr Chalmers’ parting shot, that a St Andrews railway ‘could be another Edinburgh trams scenario’ does not really make sense either, as there is a world of difference between an urban setting where roads have to be dug up and nobody knows exactly what lies beneath, and 5 miles of mainly farmland, most of which does not have unknown utilities snaking beneath it. Better to compare a new St Andrews line with the Airdrie-Bathgate railway, which involved laying 14 miles of track in an unbuilt area and did not encounter the problems which arose in Edinburgh.