The St Andrews Partnership has made a plea to Fife Council and TayPlan to push forward proposals for a train station in St Andrews.
They hope to convince SESTRAN, the regional transport authority, to include a St Andrews station in their plans. The partnership has also called for the appropriate authorities to investigate the viability of such a station. They want, “answers once and for all to a debate which has rumbled on for decades.”
Until 1969 St Andrews was linked to the rail system. At present however, the closest station is at Leuchars which must be reached by bus or car.
An investigation by Tata Steel last year concluded that railway links from a St Andrews station to both Edinburgh and Dundee would operate at a profit. It called on the Scottish Government to look into this issue.
The need for a railway link to St Andrews has long been a source of debate. StARlink (St Andrews Rail Link) has been campaigning for a station since 1989. They argue that the town can not cope with the current levels of traffic; with increasing levels of tourism and numbers of students suggesting that the situation will only get worse. They further stress that there is not enough car parking space and that what there is ruins the attractive nature of the town centre.
With house prices going up, StARlink has pointed out that many of the people who work in St Andrews live outside and commute into town – whilst many St Andrews residents travel the other way. St Andrews Partnership states that more than 2000 commuting journeys take place each day. This causes large amounts of unwanted traffic. A survey by StARlink shows that 70% of drivers would be willing to take the train instead if it was available. A railway link would therefore alleviate both the traffic and parking problems, whilst benefiting the environment.
The University is another factor. St Andrews is the only university in Scotland without direct access to a railway station and amongst only a few in the UK; these being Keele, Cranfield, Buckingham and Lampeter.
Tourism is also highlighted as a reason to bring back a train station. According to the St Andrews Partnership there are one million visitors to the town every year. St Andrews is placed 7th in Visit Scotland’s list of top 10 destinations and 9th in Trip Advisor’s top 10 UK destinations. With increased traffic into the town during golf tournaments – the Open in particular placing stress on the roads – and festivals, more transport options are needed.
StARlink told the St Andrews Citizen: “The partnership has recognised the strategic importance of better transport links from St Andrews, and their potential to create economic prosperity for the whole of Fife, as well as the environmental benefits a railway would bring. It is to be hoped that Fife Council and TayPlan will heed the request so that the proposal for a new railway can be further progressed without further delay.”