St Andrews rail study fails to win council funding

The former St Andrews railway station pictured in 1964. The site is now a car park.
The former St Andrews railway station pictured in 1964. The site is now a car park.

A study which could see a rail link brought back to St Andrews could be postponed after councillors refused funding.

St Andrews Rail Link (StARLink) asked for £8000 from the North East Fife area committee to help cover costs of VAT during the study.

It had already been granted £40,000 from the Scottish Government for the transport review which would look at connectivity in the area – and find out if a rail link would be a viable option.

The group argues it would provide economic investment, boost tourism and be a greener way to travel to town.

But Councillor Brian Thomson (Lab) opposed the funding, adding: “I am in full support of a sustainable transport link, but in terms of our budget, it’s not a huge amount of money and should be used for local projects that directly benefit the local community.

“This particular proposal is highly speculative. It’s not like the comparison with the Leven rail line where there is already a line in place. It would be a brand new rail line being created.

“The actual route being proposed is just pie in the sky – it goes through car parks, would divert holes on the golf course, it would cost hundreds of millions of pounds. It is just unrealistic. This is not a project that should be funded by the local community budget.”

But Councillor Tim Brett, Liberal Democrat for Tay Bridgehead, put forward an amendment to fund the project, saying: “We have a rail link to North Berwick but not to St Andrews, despite it being more important.

“We know how important St Andrews is, not just to the economic development of the North East, but to the economy of the whole of Fife.

“The study looks at the totality of transport links, not just rail. But hopefully the study can come back once and for all and see if a rail link is viable. Given that they’ve already been given £40,000 from the Scottish Government, I say we just get on and do it.”

However, councillors rejected the proposal voting not to fund the study eight votes to four.