News Update & Context

Please read this page for current news updates and context.  If it gives you ideas for ways you could be involved on a personal basis then come along to one of our meetings to discuss this or email a working group member. 

Newburgh Train Station Group goes to the Scottish Parliament to discuss the campaign and how our locally elected MSPs could help to further our case and other cases in Fife.  Willie Rennie MSP for North East Fife, pictured here with two of our number, had been urged by our campaign to lead a cross-party approach.  He managed to arrange a meeting attended by ourselves as well as the St Andrews Campaign and the Alloa Campaign, with Mark Russell MSP and Dean Lockhart MSP in attendance.  Unfortunately, due to a bereavement, Claire Baker MSP was unable to attend.

New insights that support the case for a station halt at Newburgh

It can be understood that ScotRail train services after December 2018 will significantly reconfigure the Edinburgh and Glasgow to Inverness timetable around an hourly service between Perth and Inverness.

It is envisaged that south of Perth Inverness trains will alternate between Glasgow and Edinburgh stopping only at Stirling or Kirkcaldy.  However, there will be additional trains with only limited stops between Glasgow and Perth since there is a requirement for an hourly semi-fast service for Glasgow-Perth-Dundee-Arbroath, but Perth to Edinburgh may see one of the current Edinburgh-Ladybank-Perth trains replaced to accommodate the new Inverness to Edinburgh via Perth express timetable.  

A replacement Edinburgh-Kirkcaldy-Markinch-Ladybank semi-fast service could be envisaged but cut short of the single track Ladybank-Newburgh section because Ladybank-Hilton Junction can only manage one train an hour in each direction.

The remaining semi-fast service on the Edinburgh-Perth route would be as now every two hours.

The whole Fife timetable as a consequence is likely to require re-planning.

Therefore, there is a possibility of trains serving Newburgh on this post December 2018 every two hours with the Edinburgh-Perth semi-fast service.  Details will have to finessed to avoid clashes on the single line and delays to the Inverness expresses, but it can be confidently asserted that there is no structural timetabling reason that a call at Newburgh should not be added.

Negative aspects of extra calls at Newburgh being included will only affect passengers going to or from Perth.  The negative patronage and revenue effect of the slightly extended journey time set against the new passengers getting on at Newburgh would be minimal.

In fact, Scotland’s current policy states (in its 2006 document Scotland’s Railwayspp25-26, Chapter 7, Strategic Outcomes):

Timetables to suit customers and improved connections

7.6 Regular, frequent passenger services between each of our city regions that reflect travellers’ needs. Inter-urban journey times that can compete with the car. Quality interchange stations where passengers from intermediate stations can connect with fast, inter-urban services.

http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2006/12/04104648/8

Thus, the Transport Scotland rationale currently deployed against the case for a halt at Newburgh, that it would negatively affect Highland mainline services, is significantly lessened by the envisaged new services post 2018 and upheld on the current policy regarding the inclusion of new halts if demand is evident:

7.9 ……..New stations will be considered where the surrounding population, workplace or visitor need is sufficient to generate a high level of demand, and would be expected to be serviced by feeder rather than inter-urban services.

In conclusion, the Newburgh Station project is relatively simple and capable of fitting into the projected train service timetable expected after December 2018.  It is not strategic and offers a quick win for all parties concerned, and furthermore, Newburgh can be seen as a good possibility as it is not on a scale to compete with the various other Fife based and Scottish wide schemes that are bigger and costlier.

It would also offer good value in an area that has not had the benefit of any transport investment for a long time.

Newburgh is a minor scale project which could be delivered without much disruption to the overall service in the long term and bring revenue to the operators without requiring financial support.  Newburgh is therefore more affordable for the initial capital involved providing a revenue stream, attractive in the present and future funding climate.

A Newburgh Station will be materially quick to implement, both through STAG and further approval processes as well as construction.  The actual cost, as a single platform station is cheaper to build, would not need significant funding as set against the rail budget and Newburgh represents to all parties concerned a new station opportunity for a lower cost.

As of now, in the early stages of the project, there appears to be scope in the December 2018 timetable for calls at a new Newburgh Station as well as potential sites for stations.  The stages the project needs to progress through include an early STAG assessment, and an early acceptance and support of the concept subject to a positive STAG assessment from Fife Council and SESTRANS.  If this is satisfactorily accomplished, Transport Scotland are likely to be supportive.

 

Mark Russell MSP, asked a question in the Scottish Parliament on the support for railway reopenings.

Scottish Parliament – Wednesday 9 November 2016 – [The Deputy Presiding Officer opened the meeting at 14:00]

Portfolio Question Time

Rail Lines and Stations (Support for Reopening)

Mark Ruskell (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Green): 

To ask the Scottish Government what support it provides to third sector organisations that seek to build a case for the reopening of rail lines and stations.

The Minister for Transport and the Islands (Humza Yousaf): 

If requested, the Scottish Government provides advice through Transport Scotland to third sector organisations and others on the application of its transport appraisal and business case guidance. The guidance is published on Transport Scotland’s website.

Mark Ruskell: 

The minister might not be aware that the Newburgh train station group recently applied unsuccessfully for funds from the national lottery to develop a Scottish transport appraisal guidance report after Fife Council had exhausted funds supporting the STAG process for the critical Levenmouth rail route. Does he agree that the planning of our 21st century rail network should not depend on a lottery game? Will he commit to the provision of enough funds to examine the cases of all emerging rail projects, while also reviewing the STAG process to make it more streamlined, transparent and cost effective?

Humza Yousaf: 

I am more than happy to discuss that in more detail with the member. I met members of the Levenmouth rail campaign and had a good discussion with them. The proposal has some merit, although there are still questions that need to be answered, which Fife Council is working on.

The campaigners did not raise the funding of the STAG appraisal as an issue, but I agree with them that there is merit in looking at whether the appraisal process can be made less cumbersome. I am more than happy to do that and to take that feedback. I am waiting for the council’s feedback on the Levenmouth rail option. All rail projects will be considered with an open mind if they have fully costed and robust business cases.

Pushing for an appropriate full Transport Appraisal (STAG) to get done for Newburgh and its area has been supported by Claire Baker MSP who has written a well framed letter to the new minister for transport in the Scottish Government.

clairebakermspcorrespondenceaugustwithminister_page_1

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There is a new constituency MSP for North East Fife, Willie Rennie MSP.  The campaign has met with him at his constituency office in Cupar and he has received a comprehensive set of briefing materials to help support us in our campaign to reopen the station and to that end get a full transport appraisal done for Newburgh and its surrounding area. Stephen Gethins MP has inherited the case notes kept by Roderick Campbell our last MSP who worked very hard on the campaign.  Roderick Campbell has been thanked by the campaign for this.  Stephen Gethins MP is in process of discussing the case for a station at Newburgh and the need for a full STAG transport appraisal with the new Scottish Government minister with responsibility for transport, Humza Yousaf MSP (The Minister for Transport and the Islands).  Willie Rennie MSP will also ask the new minister a question in the parliament.  There are also seven list MSPs for Mid-Scotland and Fife in the current Scottish Parliament (see Things To Do)

The SYSTRA Report has been forwarded to Transport Scotland by the commissioning partners, Fife Council, SESTRAN, Perth and Kinross Council and TACTRAN.  A response is awaited and the campaign will keep you posted on this.

CAMPAIGN PROGRESS AS REPORTED TO THE RECENT AGM IN JUNE 2016 THIS YEAR

NTSG_Convener’s_Report2016

 

NTSG_coffee_morning

 

 

On Friday 12th February 2016, Roderick Campbell MSP visited Newburgh to meet up with supporters to lend further support to the campaign ahead of a forthcoming meeting with Transport Scotland to discuss the strong case made for the station, which has been publicly acknowledged, and the very real need that Newburgh and area has for a full transport appraisal run according to the STAG process.

NTSGSupporters+MSP1 copy

30th January 2016

Newburgh Rail Station Campaign Bid Gathers Steam

 http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/local/fife/newburgh-rail-station-bid-gathers-steam-1.921526

A Courier article published, 26th January, gives a good representation of the campaign’s position and reading of the SYSTRA report (see item below) although the prediction of annual patronage figures from the report (in this instance quoted from the 2030 scenario in the report’s table on page 24) given in the article continues to muddy the waters.  Newburgh is an actual place with a living population, Oudenarde is a projected development.  Even so, notwithstanding this, our own household door to door survey is mentioned which as of now shows that in terms of patronage, Newburgh folk would use the station in a way that exceeds the figures given by SYSTRA for a projected 2030 usage!  However, the article also points up the better total benefits, including passenger benefits, and valuably represents the campaign’s call for a full STAG transport appraisal now.

7th December 2015

A small scale study looking at the business case for stations at Newburgh and Oudenarde/Bridge of Earn has after nearly two years been released.

The report was commissioned by SESTRAN, TACTRAN, Fife Council and Perth and Kinross Council.  It’s findings suggest that there is a better case for a station at Newburgh compared to Oudenarde/Bridge of Earn and opens the way for a full transport appraisal for Newburgh along the lines of a STAG (see below) to be conducted, something the campaign has tirelessly attempted to achieve.  In the light of this report the campaign will urge the statutory authorities, Fife Council, SESTRAN and Transport Scotland to undertake a full STAG appraisal for Newburgh as soon as possible.  The report can be seen here: 20151118_Oudenarde_and_Newburgh_Study_Final_Report_(Combined)_v5

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Stephen Gethins MP for North East Fife, elected in the May 2015 General Election for the UK parliament, visited Newburgh in September 2015 to meet with a large group of local campaign supporters and visit the site of the old station, courtesy of the current owner.

July 2015

The Newburgh Train Station Campaign is constituted as the Newburgh Train Station Group and has arisen out of public meetings and overwhelming, widespread support from residents of Newburgh for the reopening of a station halt at Newburgh, as well as a succession of statistically sound household surveys and expert reports.

Since the summer of 2011 the campaign has relied on cross-party political support and works particularly closely through its locally elected constituency Member for the Scottish Parliament and recently gained public support from the Leader of Fife Council.

The present focus of the campaign is set on obtaining a full STAG based transport appraisal (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) – http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/stagas promised in the 2012 Scottish Government approved TayPlan, in order to put the likelihood of access to the railway for Newburgh and its environs on a stronger footing. Such a rigorous assessment and appraisal process along STAG lines is required to examine all transport options for an area, and a positive outcome for rail access has to be concluded, before a station halt can be authorised.

Newburgh Train Station Campaign welcomes practical support and informed advocacy from all, including elected and aspirant political representatives in Fife from whatever party. Tangible actions rather than generic statements of support count and matter more. An unstinting effort to to get a full STAG transport appraisal for Newburgh and its catchment area requires this level of political commitment to count as support.

CAMPAIGN PROGRESS AS REPORTED TO THE RECENT AGM IN JUNE 2015 THIS YEAR

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NEWBURGH TRAIN STATION GROUP RESPONSE COMMENTARY AND SUPPORTING APPENDICES SUBMITTED TO THE CURRENT TAYPLAN PROCESS

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Newburgh_Train_Station_Group_Tay_Plan_2015_Commentary_Appendices

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO WRITES OR LOBBIES ON OUR BEHALF AS WELL AS SUPPORTING THE CAMPAIGN IN OTHER VITAL WAYS.

As of  now, March 2015, a new call for voices and argument will be shortly issued.

The MVA/Systra report is still awaited and the current redrafted TayPlan proposals will shortly be open to representations from the public.

Certainly since last March there has been movement in the right direction and a tremendous amount of intense behind the scenes pressure put on the all the relevant authorities as a result of all our combined campaign efforts.  The opaqueness and sluggish inertia of many-headed bureaucracies is not unique to transport issues alone.

Keep the faith.

 

Proposed FIFE Plan Local Development Plan – October 2014

 (Followed by the campaign’s formal responding comment submitted and published by the consultation that ended on the 9th December 2014)

Newburgh and Burnside Pages 147-148

Page 148, Reference – NEB 004, Location – Newburgh Rail Halt, Area – 1 hectare, Description – New rail halt with park and ride,

Lead Agency – Fife Council/Private Sector

Status, additional development requirements, and other information

This site is included within SEStrans Regional Transport Strategy Delivery Plan 2008-2023. The proposal is not currently supported by the Strategic Transport Projects Review and Transport Scotland has no commitment towards funding the delivery of a station at this location.

Transport Scotland’s policy is to promote better utilisation of the existing network as a first choice and, as such, welcomes proposals for Park-and-Choose sites which complement extablished rail facilities.

 Demand for new station may come about as a result of development at NEB01[225 houses South of Cupar Road proposed]. In that event the case for a new station will be considered where the needs of local communities, workers or visitors would be sufficient to generate a high level of demand, and it is more likely that feeder rather than inter-urban services would serve the station.

 Strategic transport network improvements will include junction and car parking improvements in addition to the safeguarding and provision of serviced employment land.

Green Network Priorities

Deliver a high quality development edge onto the A913 and the Public Park to reflect the location of the site as an important gateway to Newburgh.

 Provide a high quality landscape edge along the railway line.

 

Fife Plan Consultation 2014

NEB004 – Newburgh Rail Halt

Responding Comment By Newburgh Train Station Group

 

Since the 2008/2009 Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Review there has been a change of government and a developing context that requires attention when considering the Rail Halt for Newburgh. There has also been a reawakening of considerable support for a reopened rail halt in Newburgh, a renewed interest that has translated into an active engagement that is part of a wider effort by the community in Newburgh to explore, deepen and create initiatives that can assure it of meaningful developments, shared beneficially and equally by its population, to secure a better future.

 

Work carried out by the Newburgh Community Trust through Sustainable Newburgh identified both an appetite and a need in the local community for a reopened station halt, reflective of something widely long felt in Newburgh. Both an extensive analysis and report by Sustainable Newburgh, published in 2011 and another Newburgh Community Trust commissioned study from the Deltix rail consultancy also in 2011, show clear advantages, benefits and support for the Newburgh station halt and robustly indicates its feasibility (see uploaded additional supporting material).

 

Moreover, in 2011, on the back of these Newburgh Community Trust initiatives, as well as genuinely widespread popular support in Newburgh town, the local community created a group to campaign for the station closed down in 1955 to be reopened in terms of provision for a basic rail halt in Newburgh. The Newburgh Train Station Group has consistently worked through politically elected representatives and the relevant transport agencies (see http://newburghtrainstation.org.uk/).

 

The Tay Plan approved by Scottish Ministers and published in 2012 included a greater priority for the consideration of a station halt at Newburgh through the provision of a full transport appraisal for the area (see uploaded additional supporting material).

 

In 2012 the new Scottish Government announced the Scottish Station’s Fund, an initiative to provide guidance and support for local communities with an interest in improving their connections to the rail network.

 

The Scottish Government and Transport Scotland are now aware of the efforts to reopen the station at Newburgh by the community and the support given to this which has recently translated into SESTRAN and Fife Council commissioning a small scale study (along with Perth and Kinross Council and TACTRAN) to look into the various transport issues and solutions for the area. This could well see a full transport appraisal (STAG) following on from this in the near future.

 

At a meeting of the Scottish Parliament on the 25th September 2014, Nicola Sturgeon MSP was asked in question time by Roderick Campbell MSP whether the Government retains an interest in the ongoing matter of a new rail halt for Newburgh and whether it would consider a full STAG study should the current small scale study be positive. The reply was that the Government was willing to consider rail-based interventions that receive a positive appraisal under the Scottish transport appraisal guidance and if the current small scale study gives reason to the local authorities and regional transport partnerships to decide that new stations fit with their transport strategies, they will of course consider undertaking a STAG appraisal, which will explore all possible transport solutions.

 

Demand for a new station has already been proven in Newburgh and in its immediate catchment area and does not need the possibility of new housing to bolster this. This has been shown through the survey conducted during 2010 by Sustainable Newburgh on a 23% return of posted survey sheets and the subsequent, statistically no less impressive, door step to door step survey conducted since 2012 by the Newburgh Train Station Group, that has so far directly surveyed over 80% of households in Newburgh town and its immediate rural hinterland, and unequivocally shows 90% of households would use a train service running from Newburgh as well as giving a quantitative picture as to how households would use the service and how frequently (see additional uploaded supporting material).

 

New housing planned for Newburgh would only serve to increase this already identified present demand but that should not be the premise on which to base the proposal’s viability. Moreover, canvassing of the locally, closely adjacent community of Abernethy through its community council and bi-monthly newspaper also indicates considerable interest and support, a particularly significant dimension that ought to be factored in and especially in light of the current partnership between Fife and Perth and Kinross Councils who have commissioned, along with the two regional transport partnerships, the aforementioned study by a transport consultancy to review this area’s transport options. Abernethy, two miles from Newburgh represents an approximately equivalent population size. The combined population of the two neighbouring settlements should therefore represent a considerable factor in this rail passenger transport equation.

 

Many tourists and international visitors to Newburgh regularly comment on the lack of a station. The gateway into Fife from the north-west provided by Newburgh as the northerly start of the the Fife coastal path is considerably diminished by this absence. The potential for a better destination and accompanying opportunities for tourism growth are clearly factors to be considered.

 

However, the social and economic contexts for Newburgh and its area require a level of attention to development that goes a little beyond the mainstream default projections of new build housing which the current plan highlights as the component that might lend support for a rail halt. Demand, as already stated, is very much in evidence already, and especially taken in conjunction with close lying Abernethy. The real point is that there are many glaring needs in Newburgh and its lack of opportunity to join the rail transport network is certainly a significant one amongst them and a priority. Newburgh, like many townships of similar size and location, is caught in a vicious circle of under-provision. A rail halt cum station would prove a big first step in breaking that circle. Newburgh, in terms of transport provision, especially public transport, is particularly geographically isolated.

 

The Newburgh Train Station Group welcomes the Green Network Priorities included in the plan since a high quality development and landscape edge envisaged are needed. The group on behalf of the community in Newburgh would also like to strongly register the need to retain the long standing business components of the site and even allowance for new businesses which have historically always sprung from the presence of railway lines and stations.

 

One further point also needs emphasising to conclude these comments on this part of the plan. Rail transport policy and planning reviews undertaken prior to the collapse of the boom in the last decade imagined prioritising reduced journey times between the major urban network hubs. This has lingered amongst caveats that disfavour opening smaller halts within the network, often for the sake of a couple of minutes, and ignores the trend that has emerged in the last ten years that has seen station halts and whole lines reopening in Scotland as much as across the rest of the UK. In Newburgh’s case this negative presumption also ignores signalling and line improvements that have been made on the Perth to Edinburgh track. Newburgh Train Station Group is also currently working on timetable scenarios that can operate within the current passenger rail timetable and has received a positive response from Scot Rail Train Planning department managers, advising that this is a well thought out plan that addresses nodal flows and connection opportunities. The work of the Newburgh Train Station Group in this instance is still one in progress but it is pointing in the right direction and gathering depth and is evidence that a representative community body can be an active and productive partner in the venture of a station halt reopening alongside the relevant agencies and the local authority.

 

Newburgh Train Station Group, http://newburghtrainstation.org.uk/

November 2014

 

 Supporting Documents

NTSG_Fife_Plan_Consultation_2014_Supporting_Material.pdf containing in sequence four files:

Deltix_Final_Rail_Report_for_Sustainable_Newburgh.pdf (Deltix)

Train_Station_Appendix_2011.pdf (Sustainable Newburgh)

Page28_TayPlan_Nov2011.pdf (Tay Plan)

Household_Surveys_Interim_Results_June2014.pdf (Newburgh Train Station Group)

 

The Scottish Parliament

Meeting of the Parliament 25 September 2014

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=9529&i=86351&c=1735487 – .VDFVwShJVH8

Rail Journey Times

Roderick Campbell (North East Fife) (SNP)

The cabinet secretary might be aware of support for a rail halt at Newburgh on the existing Perth to Edinburgh line and that we await the results of a delayed feasibility study. Can she confirm that the Government retains an interest in this on-going matter and will consider a STAG—Scottish transport appraisal guidance—appraisal if the feasibility study is positive?

The Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, Nicola Sturgeon:

The Scottish Government is of course willing to consider rail-based interventions that receive a positive appraisal under the Scottish transport appraisal guidance, subject to affordability and the potential impact on passengers using the wider rail network. For example, that involves the challenge of balancing reduced journey times against additional stops. I am aware that the south-east of Scotland transport partnership and the Tayside and central Scotland transport partnership are undertaking a joint business case study in conjunction with Fife Council and Perth and Kinross Council regarding proposed rail stations at Newburgh and Bridge of Earn. If those bodies decide that new stations in those locations fit with their transport strategies, they will of course consider undertaking a STAG appraisal, which will explore all possible transport solutions and not just rail.

 

SEPTEMBER 2014

 

The Leader of Fife Council, Councillor David Ross, met with the campaign at the meeting of the Newburgh Train Station Group on Monday, 1st September in the Tayside Institute and Community Centre, Newburgh.

Councillor Ross gave a short address to the assembled group which was followed by a useful question and answer session and discussion.

He was able to relate that the MVA/SYSTRA report was likely to lead to a full transport appraisal along STAG lines and was due for publication at the end of the month.

The Newburgh Train Station Group would be able to read the report and then meet again with Councillor Ross to comment on it and its implications, as well as discussing the next steps to be taken.

He was able to briefly mention the campaign to the Minister of Transport at the Scottish Government in a meeting during August and said that the issue of the station for Newburgh was certainly in the minister’s eye line.

Councillor Ross assured the Newburgh Train Station Group that a station at Newburgh made sense and Fife Council would work together with the campaign to try to achieve this.

Issues of funding, both with respect to the STAG study and, if successful, the station installation, were noted by all present at the meeting to be a challenge but not insurmountable.

The outcome therefore of this meeting, which arose from the campaign action in July, was the initiation of a far more positive and proactive working relationship between the campaign and the council and a determination to develop this.

Newburgh Train Station Campaign now feels it has better support in terms of political backing from Fife Council, an important element in the attempt to get Newburgh once more linked into the railway system and a far better transport connection for the town’s future development for all its residents, present and future.

 

JULY 2014

 

The Newburgh Train Station Campaign Group on behalf of the campaign to re-open a station at Newburgh has launched a press release recently and written email letters to Fife Councillors, as well as asking its large contact list of supporters to email the same councillors.

The result of this was interest by the press and a reaction from Fife Councillors. Before even the Courier’s Fife edition ran with the story Council Rejects Rail Group’s Claim, on the 18th of July, the Leader of Fife Council, Councillor David Ross, telephoned the Convener of Newburgh Train Station Group expressing his personal surprise (no one had brought the Newburgh campaign to his attention before) and made an offer to meet with the campaign group together with an assurance to ensure that a closer working partnership between the council and the campaign emerged from now on.  Councillor Ross as Leader of Fife Council will also raise the case of the Newburgh bid for a station re-opening when he meets with the Scottish Government’s Minister for Transport in August.

Our local councillors are dismayed by the campaign’s assertions that not enough positive has been done by Fife Councillors and officials on behalf of the attempt to get a station for Newburgh. Their view, that they were not invited to our regular monthly meetings or kept informed, as well as maintaining that they were making various efforts to raise the issue, was used to balance the Courier’s article. However it can be expected that a more proactive approach will now be taken, although of course the campaign should and will attempt to monitor this very closely, especially now that the Leader of Fife Council has intervened.

The campaign has also been informed that the MVA/SYSTRA small scale study due out in May this year, then July, is to be ready for September or October, due to the merger of these two transport consultancies. Newburgh Train Station Group on behalf of the campaign will look at this when it is ready, having already grave doubts about its basis and assumptions, and urge that a full scale STAG study be carried for Newburgh.

The campaign thanks the considerable number who turned up with their children for the Courier at the Woodriffe Road railway bridge for a photograph. Unfortunately, although the photographer turned up as agreed, the journalist involved writing the story did not come along to meet with us and the story when published did not use the group photograph but instead used one of the convener of the campaign group and concentrated for balance on the counter-claims of local councillors.

 

STOP PRESS!

The Courier is running a story and there will be a photo shoot at the Woodriffe Road railway bridge on Tuesday 15th July at 5pm. Try to be there if you can and bring as many friends and family as possible!

http://newburghtrainstation.org.uk/

How Things Stand March 2014

The Head of Transportation & Environmental Services at Fife Council has replied to questions asked about the commissioned MVA/Systra transport study.  This is copied directly below.

Meanwhile at the last Abernethy Community Council meeting, Newburgh Train Station Campaign attended to give a report on the campaign and received renewed general support and helpful suggestions to bring the issue to the attention of residents in Abernethy.

The ambiguity in the reply from Fife Council is therefore especially requiring clarification, particularly regarding the insistence on combining Newburgh as an area in desperate need of public transport connections with Oudenarde, a stalled development closely within easy reach of Perth City, an already well connected transport hub.  Will the findings of the transport study proportionately distinguish the economic case of each area, or will it lump them both together?

The outcome of this small scale study will be critical to whether or not a full transport appraisal for Newburgh is undertaken.

The Things To Do  page has a specimen letter to help all campaign supporters to send off their emails or letters to press Fife Council for their response to this question.

Here is the Fife Council email reply from Bob McLellan, Head of Transportation and Environmental Services, in full and without edited corrections to grammar or spelling, responding to the questions the campaign asked:

 Thank you for email regarding progress on the passenger analysis for a rail halt at Newburgh.

For ease of response I have answered each question below:

“What will this study be about and how will it be done?

The Passenger Analysis report will look at:

  • review all previous rail and transport studies covering the area
  • existing public transport provision for the area, is both bus and rail, including any new proposals for services.
  • using traffic models run senarios of likely take up of rail services, costs of services, fare pricing and likely car parking requirements.

“Will the report once complete be in the public domain (as well as its cost) and accessible to the communities it directly relates to?

Once the analysis report is approved by the working group for the project this will be report to committee and shared with the Newburgh Train Station Group.

“Will the discussions that ensue after its completion ensure that local communities and stakeholders are involved and consulted as part of the decision making process?

We will seek your views of the report before making any firm decisions on whether to move forward to a STAG.

“Why is it that the Tay Plan signed off by Scottish Government ministers in 2012 separates the Bridge of Earn/Oudenard rail halt option from the Newburgh one? – as you are aware they appear on different pages, with the latter being led by Fife Council supported by SESTRAN, in turn supported by Transport Scotland and the former by Perth and Kinross Council, TACTRAN etc.

Both Oudenard and Newburgh are under the same Strategic Development Plan area for Tayplan.

Newburgh is actully within the SEStran (South East of Scotland Transport Partnership) area and Oudenard is within the tactran (Tay and Central Scotland Transport Partnership) area.

“Given Oudenard is very much an incomplete development, where is the logic in conjoining two very different areas and economic situations? 

As the aspirations for both Perth and Kinross and Fife Councils are for additional rail stations within their own areas by so close together it is beneficial to assess the projects together to make sure that the catchment areas and likely demand can support both halts. 

“If costs have determined the joint council and transport partnership approach, would it not be wise to consider Newburgh and Abernethy (and even Bridge of Earn) as one?

The case to look at both or just one location for passenger demands is the same cost and therefore until economics rule out both locations the plan is to assess both. 

I trust the above addresses your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Bob McLellan

Head of Transportation & Environmental Services

 

Newburgh rail halt could be just the ticket – Melanie Bonn – Perthshire Advertiser, 28th February 2014, page 22

The case for re-opening Newburgh’s rail station is back on track.

The South East of Scotland Transport Partnership has asked for a passenger demand analysis to be carried out on restoring a link between the town south of Perth and the Fair City.  Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP has indicated that Scottish Ministers will then consider the project – which would involve a new platform, waiting shelter and car park area being built.

Newburgh station closed in 1955, but the station was never removed and local campaigners have long hoped to get the stop reinstated.  The Newburgh Train Station Campaign argues that Newburgh station is conveniently placed for residents.

Nigel Mullan, the convenor of Newburgh Train Station Group, said yesterday: “We have been continually pressing local councillors, MSPs and Scottish Government ministers and officials to forward a full transport appraisal for Newburgh and its catchment area as a priority.  “Our group recently did a door-to-door survey which calculated that 90 per cent of respondents would use the rail stop.

“These results better a similar study carried out in 2011 by Sustainable Newburgh, where 85 per cent of residents said they’d opt to use the rail service for at least some journeys if the rail station re-opened.”

If a transport appraisal finds favourably for a station reopening, Scottish Government cash could go towards the Newburgh bid.

At the same time as considering Newburgh, analysis will be done into demand for a brand new rail stop at Oudenarde near Bridge of Earn.

Liz Smith, Scottish Tory MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, is heartened by the new call for passenger analysis. “I welcome the new modelling patronage study,” she said yesterday.  “MVA consultancy Systra will look at the potential passenger numbers which the re-opened Newburgh Station and Oudenarde Station in Bridge of Earn may enjoy.”

Oudernarde, south-west of Perth, has still to be built. Almond and Earn SNP councillor Henry Anderson said:  “The rail stop is in the Oudenarde development masterplan, but not a house has gone up yet.  “Looking ahead, a rail link from Oudenarde would be handy for people staying there and with wi-fi and even better in future, business could begin before people even got to the office.”

But Mr Mullan believes it may not be helpful for Newburgh to be put in the same basket as Oudenarde. He asked:  “Given Oudenarde is very much an incomplete development, where is the logic in conjoining two very different areas and economic situations?”

Tory Almond and Earn councillor Alan Livingstone declared:  “Development at Bridge of Earn has been on the backburner. Passenger demand analysis would be good news and if the results warranted a rail stop, it could well be a key that could potentially unlock development, particularly the proposed new school.  “Dunbarney Primary is full and currently children from Bridge of Earn are ferried around to six or seven other schools. Traffic from Oudenarde has to go through the back streets of Bridge of Earn, so a rail link would take away that added pressure.”
How Things Stood February 2014

Both Fife and Perth and Kinross Council transport officials made replies in January to the many campaign supporters and MSPs who wrote calling on these authorities to undertake a full transport appraisal for Newburgh and surrounding areas. As a result there has been some progress.

The council officials inform us that SEStran will commission a transport consultancy business, MVA/Systra, who have a big international dimension to their activities and all the latest software, to conduct a modelling patronage analysis for Oudenarde (the proposed railway halt in Perth and Kinross near Bridge of Earn) and Newburgh.

The reply from the Fife Council official says that once this report’s findings are received, the councils, SEStran, TACtran and Transport Scotland, would be in a position to assess whether to consider a full STAG to assess the viability of additional transport modes for this area. It is also maintained that available funding for this would not be sourced until the 2014/15 finaccial year at the earliest.

Although this is welcome, the campaign still needs to press the Councils, particularly Fife Council, and ask further questions, directly by ourselves and through our local MSPs. The Scottish Government’s Minister for Transport and Transport Scotland should also be copied into these lines of enquiry.

By introducing Oudenarde into the immediate transport planning equation for the area, Perth and Kinross Council are in danger of putting energy and focus into a site which is fraught with difficulty – this site is situated on land which, it is understood, is at risk of flooding and rising water tables. The reservations on the development at Oudenarde are also reflected in the Tay Plan, where under the relevant Unresolved Issues, Shell UK, amongst others, make a query due to one of their pipe lines running through the site.

While a station at Oudenarde might make sense if and when a direct Perth to Edinburgh railway line re-emerges, it should not be seen as a priority at this time.

On the other hand a rail halt in Newburgh really is a no brainer and of direct, immediate benefit to the Newburgh and Abernethy (and Bridge of Earn) areas.

The deferment of action for a full transport appraisal continues in the assertion about funding. This really needs to be challenged and a proper priority given to this appraisal as the Tay Plan, signed off by the Scottish Government in 2012, makes clear.

The campaign also needs to ensure that our communities and representatives have sight of the MVA/Systra report as soon as it is available, so its findings can be scrutinised by all, and the communities themselves are given voice in the discussions as to whether or not a full STAG transport appraisal is required. We must demand as stakeholders to be included.

The Things To Do  page has a specimen letter to help all campaign supporters to send off their emails or letters to those who are managing this process. A window of opportunity is slowly opening and the campaign to reopen the station at Newburgh needs to ensure it is fully opened and taken advantage of because such an opportunity will not be available again for quite a few years yet.
How Things Stood January 2014

A station/halt at Newburgh is included in the Tay Plan’s transport plans for the region.

We are in frequent correspondence with MSP’s, local councillors, council officers and office bearers in the public transport planning authorities. We have also done a Newburgh and areas household survey, which shows that 90% of people surveyed would like and use a rail halt at Newburgh (See Household Survey page and download the form to fill it in in if you have not done so already).

Through campaign pressure Fife Council and SESTRAN (South East Scotland Transport Partnership) have recently engaged with Perth and Kinross Council and TACTRAN (Tayside and Central Scotland Transport Partnership) to share in the transport appraisal for Newburgh and area. Transport Scotland has indicated willingness to provide some funding for this, achieved through considerable campaigning efforts, but Fife Council have been slow to commit funds which is why Perth and Kinross Council have been drawn in.

The relevant area transport partnerships too are involved with SESTRAN being very supportive of a station at Newburgh. Perth and Kinross Council are keen to see times of train journeys between Inverness and Perth shortened as well as stations in its area along this route served. It also wants to keep the option of a Bridge of Earn/ Oedenarde station on the table and does not appear to be concerned about the advantages a Newburgh station would have for Abernethy. Fife Council officials by contrast are well into their part in the second Forth road crossing, itself a considerable piece of finance that dwarfs by a factor of millions the cost of a study for a transport appraisal of Newburgh and its catchment area.

It suits Fife Council and Perth and Kinross Council to play a wait and see game rather than commit funds to a study to appraise the transport needs of Newburgh and area as promised in the Tay Plan and approved on publication by the Scottish Government. The cost would be around £75,000 and be carried out in accordance with Scottish Transport Advice Guidance (STAG), the first step towards assesssing what an area’s transport needs are, including the possible scenario of a train service and station, alongside road improvements and bus service. The two councils have suggested there may be funds available in the next financial year, 2014/2015, but they are not giving any guarantees. This is why the more people in Newburgh and Abernethy who write/email the contacts given on the next page the better. So far 90% of 70% of households in Newburgh say they want a station and would use it regularly in both a northward and southward direction. By contacting the list of officials and political representatives given on the Things To Do page  and calling on them to stop dilly-dallying and get a move on with a transport appraisal for Newburgh along the lines of a STAG, this expression of support becomes very real and potent, reinforcing the overwhelming statistical evidence of public feeling and support in Newburgh and ensuring the right practical steps are taken to see it has a very real chance of becoming a reality.