Group efforts signal rail link’s best chance

Councillors agreed to contribute cash for the manager
Councillors agreed to contribute cash for the manager

By Ralph Mellon

Its journey is taking a long time – and it’s going to be a good while before it arrives.

... it’s been a long time since any supporters have gone to the lengths of the current proponents in flagging up the logic and the need for such a service

But the campaign to reconnect a nearby part of east Fife to a rail link will probably never have a better chance of succeeding than it has now.

That’s largely down to the expertise and commitment of the group currently fronting the LevenMouth Rail Campaign.

The members are seeking to re-establish a link between Leven and Thornton, joining the Fife Circle line.

The benefits hopefully spinning off from it would be great in many ways for the immediate area, plus areas of Fife already served by rail, such as Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes and north east Fife.

For many years, there has been healthy approval in principle whenever the notion has re-entered the public consciousness.

But it’s been a long time since any supporters have gone to the lengths of the current proponents in flagging up the logic and the need for such a service.

The LMRC campaigners make regular representations and stage monthly meetings which are addressed by a number of knowledgeable guest speakers, while they have organised petitions and online campaigns to gain public support.

True, previous calls may not have had the benefits of the internet and social media, but the passion and deep belief of these guys is hard to disregard.

They have also researched the area and the subject very meticulously and have a great deal of knowledge – not to mention an overwhelming argument in favour – of the “need, logic and justice” of getting “our neglected community” back on track.

Such expertise does indeed stir wishes that those holding the purse strings and who exercise the political will can see the logic this time round.

In my 30-plus years of living in Fife, the desire to revive the link, severed back in 1969, has been a prominent issue on several occasions.

Unfortunately, the preference of the local authorities seemed to be elsewhere regarding major public transport projects in Fife – while Labour and the SNP vacillated between supporting it and dismissing it as uneconomic, depending on who had the most agitators at Fife House and Holyrood.

The campaigners’ case is quite straightforward – Levenmouth is the biggest urban area in Scotland not directly served by rail, despite the five-mile line still lying between Thornton and Leven.

Passenger and freight services need to be restored, they say, to ease the volume of road traffic.

Right now, the campaigners know the minds of a lot of key players will be focused elsewhere before, during and after the General Election. So the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections may help their cause more, with transport being a devolved issue.

As they have pointed out, the rail connection is a strategic priority of Fife Council and local plans – and “probably no other single measure would bring the same direct and sustained benefit to the Levenmouth area as regular rail services.”

Support the campaign – because this group carries our best hope.