Rail group relfects on a year of campaigning

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Twelve months ago, a dedicated group of Levenmouth residents decided that enough was enough.

No longer would they sit back and accept that Levenmouth would carry the unfortunate title of the being the largest urban area without a rail link in Scotland.

And so, Levenmouth Rail Campaign (LMRC) was born.

And in just 12 short months, they’ve achieved much more than any of them thought.

Eugene Clarke, chairman of LMRC, said: “We’ve made fantastic progress, we really have.

“During the campaign carried out in 2008, the political support wasn’t necessarily there, but now it is. The support we’ve had from Fife Council particulary has been first class.

“We’ve had the backing of the leader David Ross, and the deputy leader Lesley Laird, and it’s not just words, they’ve come along to meetings and provided access to people who can help.”

Fife Council confirmed its support for the campaign in late 2014 after it announced it would invest £100,000 in updating the STAG feasibility study which was originally carried out in 2008.

It is expected the tender for that study will be announced in the next few days, and an estimated timescale of three months has been given to carry it out over the summer.

Dr Allen Armstrong, secretary, said: “Campaigns like this can often be frustrating, but this is an interesting one because it’s been like pushing on an open door most of the time. The Council are behind it, and we have support from some of the politicians as well.

“We’ve also made contact with individuals and groups in the rail sector, and the reaction is always ‘Why is the link not there already?’”

Keen to get the backing of the business community as well as locals across Levenmouth, the campaign has just confirmed an event in partnership with Fife Council and Fife Chamber of Commerce, which has flagged the rail link in Levenmouth as one of its organisational objectives.

And next month, the group will welcome one of the managers from Malcolms haulage firm - now handling the logistics for nearby Diageo - to its open meeting, which anyone interested in the campaign can attend.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, the campaign team are keen to attract as many more volunteers as they can to get the word out.

“They don’t even have to necessarily be pounding the streets - they might just sit in front of a computer and work on social media for us,” said Eugene.

The group is also hoping they can secure a campaign manager for a period to help boost the profile of LMRC to a wider network.

“We are also hoping to start a programme of Saturday-morning roadshows in the local area to get the public support,” Eugene added.

The group already has over 4000 signatures on its petition for the re-opening of the Thornton-Leven link, and is hoping they can reach the 10,000 target in the next few months.

Allen added: “We are at a critical stage in the campaign. We need to get past the hurdles in front of us and get the project on the list of Transport Scotland future projects - and the way to do that is to keep the pressure up.

“Now is the time to get serious - we need to get proactive support.

“It will ultimately be a political decision, and what do politicians respond to? Pressure. So it has to be a two-pronged approach - getting support from the public, but also the business community - the key stakeholders who stand to benefit from this link.”