150th Open: Train drivers’ deal ‘too late’ to save many golf fans St Andrews travel plans

A pay deal with train drivers has come too late to save many golf fans’ plans to travel to The Open in St Andrews this week, an MSP has said

Monday, 11th July 2022, 9:08 pm
Updated Monday, 11th July 2022, 9:08 pm

Wendy Chamberlain said despite the agreement reached with union ASLEF there was “still no guarantee” they will be able to rely on the rail network” to get to the landmark 150th anniversary championships which get underway on Thursday.

The event is expected to attract massive crowds, but concerns have been raised for weeks over transport to and from the home of golf.

Ms Chamberlain, Lib Dem MSP for North-east Fife, welcomed the deal, but said it may take ten days to get rail services restored after emergency timetables were introduced.

Sir Bob Charles of New Zealand makes their way down the first during the Celebration of Champions Challenge during a practice round prior to The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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She said: “This announcement means that tourists and commuters can breathe a sigh of relief after weeks of cancellations.

“However it may have come too late in the day for those travelling to The Open in St Andrews. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are expected in my constituency this week but there is still no guarantee that they will be able to rely on the rail network to get there.”She called on fellow Fife MSP, Jenny Gilruth, Transport Secretary, to set out what will be done to “prevent visitors to the home of golf getting stranded this week.”

Wendy Chamberlain (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)

She added: “We need to see a comprehensive timetable of when services will be up and running again so that no one finds themselves waiting on a train which will never come.

Currently, a limited number of services are stopping at Leuchars - the nearest station to St Andrews.

Golf fans have already been advised to find other forms of transport including buses - which have endured a slew of cancellations because of driver shortages in recent weeks - or taxis.

ScotRail said it was now working towards a full timetable as soon as possible.

But they said it was a complex process which takes in drivers’ rest days and overtime.

During the industrial dispute, the rail operator cancelled some 700 services and came under huge criticism as fans travelling to major concerts and events struggled to get public transport home.