Campaigners mark 50 years since last train to St Andrews

St Andrews station in 1965.
St Andrews station in 1965.

On January 4, 1969, the last train to St Andrews arrived.

Fifty years later, and there is still an active campaign seeking to restore the rail link.

StARLink members at the spot of the old station.

StARLink members at the spot of the old station.

To mark the occasion, around a dozen people gathered at the old station, now a car park, looking back to the past but also looking forward to the prospect of bringing rail back to St Andrews.

Members of StARLink, the campaign group seeking the restoration of the rail link, were among those who attended the event.

Convenor Jane Ann Liston said after the event: “The closure of the St Andrews railway back in 1969, contrary to the Beeching recommendations, is now recognised by most people as a blunder.

“However, we are now on the way to rectifying this wrong, with the initial stage of the STAG evaluation underway.

“With the 10 per cent jump in passenger numbers at Leuchars last year, most of whom are going to and from St Andrews, and the traffic flows into town continuing to increase, the case for a new line suitable for 21st century requirements grows stronger every day.

“We look forward to sharing the results of the initial phase of the STAG later this year.”

The campaign took a big step forward last year with the publication of a report into the viability of restoring rail services.

The report, by Playfair Consultancy Group, found that most businesses were in favour of restoring the rail link, and the campaign had strong support from students.

The report also found that because more than 90 per cent of students travel outside St Andrews at least once a month – most of whom are travelling to Edinburgh – the railway passenger numbers are likely to be higher than initially calculated.

Later in 2018, the Scottish Government announced funding for a study into the possibility of restoring the line. The Newburgh Train Station Group also received funds for a study.

Citizen: St Andrews line closure ‘a disaster’

The issue was covered comprehensively in the St Andrews Citizen at the time.

The January 4, 1969, edition of the paper, which came out on the same day as the last train, described the closure of the line ‘a disaster’.

Here is the article from that edition:

With the closing of the branch railway line out of St Andrews just a few days off, extreme perturbation on all sides by townspeople.

The Town Council are alarmed at the fact that out of the 21 main line trains which stop at Leuchars daily only about six are being met by buses for St Andrews.

Passengers from other trains will have to depend on the bus service that passes through Leuchars village half-a-mile from the station.

Provost T. T. Fordyce has emphasised that they fought the closure at every point and probed the possibility of British Railways keeping the line open by means of a local subsidy.

This was found to be too costly at a minimum of £20,000 per year.

The Merchant’s Association, Hotelkeepers and the Students’ Representative Council have all expressed their deep concern.

Even the request by the students’ to defer the closing by one day to enable students to get back by rail for the new term, has been refused.

The general opinion is that it will be a disaster for St Andrews.

The edition also featured a piece on the Dundee-Newport rail passenger service, which was originally supposed to end on January 6.

Traffic commissioners decided to defer a ruling on an application for a bus service between Wormit, Newport and Dundee as an alternative to the rail service.

This decision meant the passenger service had to continue.