ST ANDREWS Community Council, long time supporters of the campaign to have the university town reconnected to the rail network, has had a sneak preview of the route identified in a new feasability study.
Almost 22 years after its launch, the STARLINK (St Andrews Rail Link) campaign was back at the monthly meeting of the community organisation to report on the progress of the ongoing study by Tata Steel - formerly Corus,
The council made a substantial contribution of £1000 towards the costs of the initiative and STARLINK convenor Jane Ann Liston showed to members the preliminary drawings of the optimal route as identified in the study.
Ms Liston also requested that the community council make a short submission to the current TayPlan consultation programme, requesting the inclusion of the safeguarding of land for a railway line and station, similar to the statement in the 2001 Fife Structure Plan, but using the Tata drawing as an indication.
Ms Liston told the Citizen:”Although the route is only an indication, it comprises a new alignment with north and south chords to the main line, enabling travel both north and south and terminating beside the bus station, thus facilitating integrated public transport.
“Care has been take to avoid dwellinghouses and other sensitive sites, as well as taking into account land ownership and value and the topography of the area.”
She explained that the route will be made public once the rest of the study, including costings, timetabling and passenger forecasts, have been completed.
Financial support to allow the study to go ahead came from a number of sources, including £500 from Rail Future UK, which combined with the Scottish branch’s grant of £1500 meant that the campaigning organisation provided almost half of the cost. Contributions also came from the Dornoch Rail Action Group along with support from Harrogate and Grantown on Spey, as well as throughout Fife.
Supporters of the campaign for the restoration of a rail link to St Andrews - the line was axed more than 40 years ago - have been buoyed by the study which comes after almost a quarter-of-a-century of lobbying.
STARLINK maintains that a railway would provide an attractive alternative form of transport for the thousands of commuters in and out of St Andrews and reduce the traffic flow on the A91, which is the busiest road in north east Fife.
St Andrews is the seventh most visited Scottish destination after Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen, Fort William, Stirling and Oban, all of which have rail connections. It is also one of Scottish Enterprise’s six designated destinations along with housing Scotland’s oldest university and being the Home of Golf.
The rail connection to St Andrews was severed in British Rail’s controversial cull of branch lines in 1969.
Since 1989 the STARLINK pressure group has been campaigning with the stated aim of reconnecting the town to the rail system in the interests of convenience for travellers, the alleviation of traffic congestion and a reduction of car generated pollution in St Andrews.