Fifers urged to have their say on Scotrail’s plans to shake up services across region
Sweeping changes to Fife’s rail service has been branded a “slap in the face for commuters” who will have fewer services and longer travel times.
Scotrail’s timetable shake-up, unveiled this week, would leave the Kingdom with a poorer, less frequent service from May 2022.
And that has sparked a political backlash with a call to the Scottish Government to scrap the proposals.
If they go ahead, it will mean a 30% increase in journey times between Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh, and fewer trains.
The proposals include:
One train per hour between Edinburgh and Dundee calling at all stations via Kirkcaldy;
One train per hour between Edinburgh and Perth calling at all stations via Dunfermline;
One train per hour between Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy calling at all stations via Kinghorn.
One train per hour between Edinburgh and Glenrothes with Thornton calling at all stations via Dunfermline.
Additional peak capacity will be provided between Edinburgh and Glenrothes with Thornton via both Kirkcaldy and Dunfermline.
Through services between Fife and Tweedbank will be discontinued, and passengers will have to change trains at Edinburgh Waverley.
There will be no direct trains from Kirkcaldy to Perth and the Highlands.
The Fife Circle line will also be badly hit with just one direct train per day between West Fife (Rosyth to Glenrothes on the north circle line) and Kirkcaldy.
There will also only be one direct train per day between Kirkcaldy and West Fife, and - other than one train per day - all journeys to and from north-south Fife will require a change at Inverkeithing.
The changes come in a set of draft proposals from Scotrail which are out to consultation before coming into effect next May.
Pre-pandemic, the operator faced strong criticism for overcrowded trains, station skipping and cancellations which left many commuters deeply unhappy.
Scotrail saw a massive slump in the number of passengers during COVID, and it says the way people use trains will change as they travel at different times and for different purposes.
Concerns have been raised that the cuts sit at odds with the drive to get people to use public transport, and will hit commuters already enduring regular tailbacks at the Queensferry Crossing.
Alex Rowley MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife said the changes would “decimate” local services.
He said: “These sweeping cuts are contrary to any commitments to greener travel polices and will come as a slap in the face for many passengers.
“The changes could see the removal of almost all direct trains between the two sides of the Fife Circle, the removal of all direct trains between Kirkcaldy and Perth, the reduction of semi-fast trains from Kirkcaldy to Edinburgh, increased journey times on the Perth to Edinburgh route, the main service between Inverness to Perth/Edinburgh travelling via Stirling with passengers now having to change trains - and the through services between Fife and Tweedbank discontinued with passengers changing at Edinburgh.
“This will no doubt result in increased travel times and potential overcrowding at a time when we are supposedly committed to greener travel and hitting ambitious climate targets.”He urged urged people to have their say in Scotrail’s consultation.
Alex Hynes, Scotland’s railway managing director, said: “Our job is to keep people moving and connected to business, leisure, and education while meeting the expectations of our customers.