Campaigners cautious over rail report

LMRC members including Allen Armstrong, Eugene Clarke and Ross Bennett, with MSPs David Torrance, Tricia Marwick and MP Stephen Gethins (Fife Photo Agency)
LMRC members including Allen Armstrong, Eugene Clarke and Ross Bennett, with MSPs David Torrance, Tricia Marwick and MP Stephen Gethins (Fife Photo Agency)
  • STAG report
  • Early draft
  • Concerns raised

Campaigners calling for the restoration of Leven’s rail link have signalled their response to an early draft of a potentially crucial report.

LevenMouth Rail Campaign members gave a cautious reception to a pre-appraisal version of the long-awaited STAG (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance) report, which will travel a long way to deciding if this public transport option for Levenmouth and the East Neuk will be created.

We do not wish Levenmouth to remain a one-horse town.

LMRC group

Last week the group also met with leading local politicians at the site where Leven’s new station would be created, if the project is finally approved, and made a plea to each of them to include it in their manifestos.

The team has prepared a heavily detailed case over the last several years on why Levenmouth – by far the biggest urban area in Scotland not served by direct rail links – should be rejoined with the national network.

It proposes that a five-mile stretch of track would connect Leven and its surrounding area with Thornton on the Fife Circle line and bring a multitude of benefits for business, travel, the environment and the population.

Campaigners said they were very grateful for the work which had gone into the report so far but they were apprehensive about some areas, notably an over-emphasis on bus services, while they were wary about some of the wider geographic and population descriptions.

“Far too rosy a picture is presented of improved buses, bus information, links from Methil/Buckhaven, etc, direct to Markinch,” said the group, adding there could be too much reliance on bus travel as a sole mode of public transport.

“While ‘cheaper’, the effect will be to completely by pass Leven and help turn the whole area into a dormitory.

“At the same time, improved buses will still not bring Levenmouth within convenient time commuting distance of Edinburgh.

“We do not wish Levenmouth to remain a one-horse town, utterly dependent on Stagecoach to provide that horse.”

The LMRC team members believed too little reference was made in the draft STAG document to the East Neuk population, or its use of Leven as a hub for amenities, and there were only limited mentions of transport connections other than Edinburgh.

“Yet Levenmouth falls between the orbit of two emerging city regions, Edinburgh and Dundee,” they added. Campaigners also reckoned nearly 5000 residents had been missed out when referring to Levenmouth’s population figures and hoped these concerns would be addressed in the next stage of the analysis.