Campaigners renew push for St Andrews rail link

Crowds at the original St Andrews station gather for a railtour in 1965. The five mile stretch of line to the university town from Leuchars closed in 1969. Picture: George Robin/Wikicommons
Crowds at the original St Andrews station gather for a railtour in 1965. The five mile stretch of line to the university town from Leuchars closed in 1969. Picture: George Robin/Wikicommons
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Campaigners have launched a new push to restore St Andrews to the rail network - but acknowledge there are many hurdles to clear in their long-running quest.

They have published a report highlighting the benefits of re-opening the five-mile line to the Fife town, which closed nearly 50 years ago.

However, the St Andrews Rail Link campaign (StARLink), which was founded in 1989, is still waiting for a bid to be lodged to fund the detailed study required before ministers would consider such a scheme.

Research commissioned five years ago showed the line would cost up to £71 million but cover its operating costs and provide faster journeys from Edinburgh than by road.

The latest report, by consultants Peter Brett Associates, said re-opening the rail spur from Leuchars would further boost St Andrews’ golf and other tourism.

It would also assist the University of St Andrews’ aim of becoming the UK’s first carbon neutral university.

StARLink secretary Dita Stanis-Traken said restoring the rail link would be far less complicated than other routes such as the Borders Railway.

He said most of it was over open country, with only one viaduct required and one road to cross.

He described the new report as “immensely positive”.

However, Mr Stanis-Traken acknowledged the funding bid for a detailed appraisal had still to be confirmed as part of the Tay City Deal project to be submitted to the Scottish and Uk governments for approval.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency said: “We have been in discussions with Fife Council for several years regarding a rail link to St Andrews and have previously indicated the requirement for any such project would need to be identified by Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance, and subsequently the preferred option would need to demonstrate an effective business case.”

Transport minister Humza Yousaf has told MSPs the project has “come across my desk” and “we should not be closed to investing in new lines”.