Vision for future of Tayside and Fife rail services to be unveiled

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Members of the public will get the chance to hear more about a bold blueprint for the future of rail services in Tayside and Fife at an event in Dundee this weekend.

Railfuture Scotland, which represents rail users across the country, will be displaying its ambitious proposals at the Dundee Model Railway Exhibition in the Dundee International Sports Complex.

The national campaign group believes its vision would greatly enhance the opportunities for fast, frequent and environmentally friendly travel within Courier Country and further afield.

In his revamped rail network, Roderick McDougall, vice-chair of Railfuture Scotland, a chartered civil engineer and retired transport professional, has added links between Perth and Comrie, between Perth and Laurencekirk via Forfar, between Leuchars and St Andrews and between Bridge of Earn and Cowdenbeath.

These, together with several new stations on the existing network, such as at West Ferry, Dundee Airport, Bridge of Earn, Newburgh and Wormit, and new services such as between Carnoustie and St Andrews, would result in a “significant modal shift from road to rail”, claimed Mr McDougall, boosting the economy, increasing prosperity and protecting the environment.

Mr McDougall said: ‘Whereas it is Network Rail’s job to look after and maintain the existing network and Scotrail’s job to operate passenger trains on it in accordance with their franchise, there appears to be no-one charged with looking at extending and improving the network.

“This is a Government responsibility which they are shirking by passing it on to cash strapped regional transport authorities and local councils without giving them either the authority or the financial ability to fulfil it.

“It is only pressure groups like ours that are trying to ‘kick start’ a renaissance in railway improvements.”

Under Railfuture Scotland’s proposals, service frequencies would be in line with the policy to ensure journeys to major employment, social and commercial centres of less than 50 miles have a 30 minute or better service.

The vision would necessitate the reinstatement of various lines, including the old Strathmore Line between Perth and Laurencekirk and the Glenfarg Line between Bridge of Earn and Cowdenbeath.

Plans are all well and good unless money is forthcoming, of course, and no fully costed proposals have yet been put forward, but Railfuture Scotland will be hoping to gauge the public’s appetite for the plans this weekend.

Transport Scotland has stressed that the Scottish Government is committed to increasing accessibility to Scotland’s railways so more people can take the train as an alternative to car travel.

It added that it is willing to consider proposals for new services and stations where there is “clear evidence of benefits, subject to affordability and a suitable business case being identified”.