The great Scots philosopher Thomas Carlyle once said: “Our life is not really a mutual helpfulness; but rather, it’s fair competition cloaked under due laws of war; it’s a mutual hostility.”
I thought it apt to bring this up this week as the dust settles on the fantastic news that passenger trains will return to Levenmouth.
It will be genuinely transformational for that particular part of Fife to see the disused rail line brought back into action, connecting Leven to the Fife Circle and therefore beyond by rail for the first time in five decades. Indeed, the £70 million project – which would see stops at Leven and Cameron Bridge – could see the line operational within five years, which would be a major fillip for the area.
That’s all superb news and I’ve nothing but admiration and congratulations for all those who had a hand in making it happen.
Returning to my Carlyle reference though, one must wonder what Levenmouth’s success will mean for the hopes of campaigners in other parts of the region who have similarly made the case for rail links in their respective areas.
St Andrews of course springs firstly to mind, but you’ll also have passionate people in west Fife scratching their heads about what happens now in relation to the Longannet rail link.
Of course, major infrastructure initiatives cannot simply be seen in isolation, and on the face of it the campaigns I’ve talked about will surely suggest that their causes are not only just as worthy as the Levenmouth one but will also complement it.
But with every penny seemingly a prisoner these days, the fact the Scottish Government has committed such a hefty chunk of change to a Fife project now would suggest to me that St Andrews, Longannet and other rail schemes may well have just fallen down the pecking order.
Carlyle was effectively saying that society is seemingly built on the principle of competition, that there are always winners and losers in life, and it may be that the success of one campaign has just inadvertently provided a setback for others.
I hope I’m wrong of course and it would be an amazing thing to see transport minister Michael Matheson back in Fife soon to make announcements that X amount will go to the restoration of the St Andrews link and that Y amount will be ploughed into enhancements in west Fife.
But just like when it comes to getting a seat on a late Edinburgh to Kirkcaldy train while the Fringe is on, I’m not holding my breath on that front.