Guardbridge queues ‘emphasise’ need for St Andrews rail link

Cllr Liston argues a rail link would ease congestion on the roads around St Andrews.
Cllr Liston argues a rail link would ease congestion on the roads around St Andrews.

Recent traffic chaos in Guardbridge strengthens the case for a rail link to St Andrews, according to campaigners.

Bus operator Stagecoach has been forced to cancel several buses in north east Fife, citing delays in Guardbridge.

Work started towards the end of last month on repairs to the New Bridge on the A91 in the village.

The first phase was expected to last six-eight weeks, while access scaffold is constructed underneath the bridge. This has lead to off-peak lane closures between 9.30am-3.30pm. Traffic lights are being operated manually in a bid to help keep motorists moving, but drivers have been stuck in huge queues.

This has led Stagecoach to cancel some buses.

Councillor Jane Ann Liston, convenor of rail campaign group StARLink, said the recent problems emphasise why the town needs a rail station of its own.

“The serious traffic disruption plainly shows the sheer stupidity of leaving an important and popular destination like St Andrews vulnerable by being accessible only by road,” Cllr Liston told the Citizen.

“It’s not as though taking public transport is an alternative, as most of the buses use the A91, including those going to Leuchars railway station.

“The current chaos simply serves to emphasise why St Andrews needs a railway station in the town, rather than five or six miles away. It is also only too clear that car journeys in and out of St Andrews are not confined to peak hours, which is not at all surprisingly given its importance as a tourist destination.

“There is a precedent for restoring rail services to circumvent strategic road works.

“Earlier this decade, the Kessock Bridge needed to be closed for major repairs, potentially leaving many commuters unable to reach Inverness. The solution was to build a railway station at Conon Bridge, giving commuters an alternative way of getting to work. The station stayed open after the bridge was re-opened, and is still well used. This work was carried out to facilitate travel for a much smaller number of people than those who daily journey in and out of St Andrews.

“The relevant authorities should recognise the strategic importance and ensure that never again is travel to Scotland’s Oxbridge, Canterbury and Wimbledon disrupted to such an extent again. A railway is the obvious way to ensure access is maintained.”

A STAG evaluation is currently being carried out looking at the transport issues in St Andrews.