Study signals support for St Andrews rail link

A train waiting at the station.
A train waiting at the station.

Supporters of the campaign to reconnect St Andrews to the rail network have been buoyed by the response to a recently published feasability study, which is currently out for public consultation.

The report was commissioned by lobbying group StARLink - St Andrews Rail Link - with financial support from Rail Future Scotland, St Andrews Community Council and Rail Future UK, as well as from individuals.

The community council has set up a rail sub-committee to oversee the consultation with local organisations and focusing on the proposals contained in the report produced and published by Tata Steel.

StARLink convener, Jane Ann Liston, said that she had held a meeting with Scotrail Development personnel to discuss the report.

She told the Citizen: ”Scotrail are being very positive about the proposal. As this comes on top of a most encouraging response from Transport Scotland, the campaign has taken a significant step towards getting the St Andrews railway proposal put through the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance - STAG - process.

“Over the next few weeks StARLink, with the welcome collaboration of St Andrews Community Council, is engaging in a consultation with various significant organisations in the town.

“As their responses will form part of the input into the STAG process, it is hoped that these bodies will avail themselves of the opportunity to make comments and raise concerns, as assumptions will be made in the case of no response.

“Responding to points already raised, further enhancements are being carried out by Tata Steel to their report and these will be completed shortly.”

Ms Liston, who has been invited by the community council to sit on its rail sub-committee, added that Scotrail has also suggested holding further talks with local campaigners and organising a meeting with representatives of SESTRAN - South East of Scotland Transport Partnership - which aims to work towards a more sustainable and efficient transport network.

According to StARLink, the new alignment proposed in the study is a 21st century answer to the transport requirements of St Andrews, with fewer curves, thus enabling much faster speeds than were possible on the early Victorian route.

The proposal presents an opportunity to radically improve the connections to St Andrews, and also enhance rail services to Cupar, Dunfermline and Dundee, as well as restoring them to Wormit. Also, it would realise the long-held ambition of the tourist industry to make possible direct travel between St Andrews and Edinburgh Airport in just over an hour.

The estimate for the five miles of track to reconnect St Andrews to the rail network is currently £76 million.

Campaigners for the restoration of a rail link to the town - the line was axed in British Rail’s controversial cull of branch lines in 1969 - have been lobbying for almost a quarter-of-a-century and maintain 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.

The report can be accessed via the Starlink website at www.starlink-campaign.org.uk where comments can also be made.