Full steam ahead for St Andrews rail study

The campaign to re-open the St Andrews rail link after a 50-year gap today won Scottish Government funding for a study which could pave the way for the scheme.
St Andrews station in 1965. Picture: George Robin/WikicommonsSt Andrews station in 1965. Picture: George Robin/Wikicommons
St Andrews station in 1965. Picture: George Robin/Wikicommons

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson further raised campaigners hopes by choosing the Fife town to announce £681,000 for research into the project and nine other potential rail initiatives across Scotland.

The appraisals will determine whether rail is the best transport development option, which could lead to government money to build them.

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Research for the St Andrews Rail Link campaign (StARLink) in 2012 found that restoring the five-mile spur from Leuchars would cost £71 million.

Its report said the line, closed in 1969, would cover its operating costs and provide faster journeys to and from Edinburgh than by road.

Also awarded appraisal funding, with potential rail elements:

East Lothian Council – new Haddington station

Fife Council – Cross-Forth travel

Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (Hitrans) – HM Naval Base Clyde transport opportunities

Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge Community Council – Access to Linlithgow station

North East of Scotland Transport Partnership (Nestrans) – Accessibility at Insch station

Newburgh Train Station Group – new Newburgh station

StARLink – new St Andrews station

South Lanarkshire Council – connectivity in Clydesdale

Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership (Tactran) – Bridge of Earn/Oudenarde park and ride

Tactran – Stirling strategic park and ride

The new appraisals will be paid for by the £2m local rail development fund which was established by ministers in February as part of the Scottish Budget deal with the Scottish Greens.

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BACKGROUND: Campaigners renew push for St Andrews rail linkMr Matheson said: “Providing funding for these transport appraisals will allow the successful applicants to consider the transport issues and opportunities affecting their local communities.

“Helping communities bring forward proposals to tackle these specific, local rail connectivity issues, will allow us to consider potential projects as part of our plans for future investment in our railways.”

StARLink convenor Jane Ann Liston said: “As a prime national and international destination, being the 'home of golf' and Scotland's oldest university, the historic tourist destination of St Andrews has suffered for years from the onslaught of increasing traffic clogging up the town.

“The StARLink campaign believes the option of direct rail travel from Edinburgh - including the airport interchange - and Dundee to the town would significantly alleviate both the physical and environmental effects of too many cars in a small town with a medieval layout.

"In addition, improving the connectivity with the likes of Cupar, Dundee and Dunfermline will spread the economic benefits generated by St Andrews over the whole of Fife and also across the Tay.”

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"We listened to communities who had the vision and drive to re-open rail stations, but needed the support from government to build the case further.

"Re-opening rail stations takes time, but today’s announcement is the first step in a rail revolution that will lead to a positive legacy for generations to come.

"Expanding the rail network is vital if we are to deliver a green and clean transport system for the future, but it can also be a big driver to economically regenerate communities.

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“I’m delighted that both Newburgh and St Andrews rail campaigns have directly benefited from the fund.

"Both have developed compelling cases to reopen stations that would be a huge boost to their communities. The funds will enable them to develop strong business cases to move forward to the next step.”