Monday: a return visit by Transport Scotland officials to meet local politicians and campaigners
The renewed campaign to get step-free access for platform 2 has had significant success already.
A group led by the Burntisland Community Development Trust has succeeded in uniting politicians across Fife – from all parties – in calling on Transport Scotland to put forward the station to the Department of Transport in London.
The DfT is running the latest round (Control Period 6, covering the next five years) of its Access for All Programme.
In the past it seems that the railway industry (Network Rail and ScotRail) have worked closely with Transport Scotland to produce a list to send to London without much involvement from local communities.
The process is far from straightforward. The NetworkRail site says “Nominations should be sent direct to AccessforAllNominations@dft.gov.uk using the nomination form listed at the bottom of this page.” In Scotland nominations go to ScotRail then Transport Scotland which draws up a list.
Some people think that this list goes to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity (Michael Matheson MSP) for approval, others think he is merely informed of TS’s decision.
Although some aspects of the railways in Scotland are devolved, decisions about which stations to actually fund Access improvements for are not.
In theory anyone can nominate a station by just filling in the nomination form. This is a 24 column spreadsheet. It turns out that applicants from outside the rail industry don’t have to fill all the boxes!
The DfT sent a letter to all MPs encouraging them to nominate stations. It is far from clear how much influence this will have, but local MP Lesley Laird has filled in a form nominating Burntisland.
Constituency MSP David Torrance has sent letters in support. He was previously involved in the last big campaign to improve access here. More recently he has been probing the DfT for information, using a Freedom of Information request.
Local Fife councillors have all been involved in the BCDT working group and have written letters of support, as have all 7 List MSPs.
Fife Council is formally backing Burntisland and has listed four other stations that need improved access. The next station along the Fife Circle, Kinghorn, is included as it also has one platform with only stepped access.
Burntisland Community Council has provided strong support concluding with “In our collective view, disabled access to the northbound platform is both urgently required and long overdue.”
DfT guidelines concentrate on disability access, but “access for all” is required for people with young children, buggies, bicycles and luggage – especially in a town with a significant number of visitors.
A lot of work has been done by many people to put forward a strong case for money for necessary improvements at Burntisland Station. Campaigners and politicians are realistic that this particular fund may not be the most appropriate source of upgrading money.
It seems likely that money from several sources will be required. It is still not known how much money is actually needed. Transport Scotland talks about £2-3 MILLION – for two lifts and a new bridge but hasn’t actually costed this for installation at Burntisland Station. TS is also reluctant to fund a proper feasibility study which could, apparently, cost £200,000!
The least TS should be prepared to do is update the assessment done a few years ago which concluded it might be possible to re-open the underpass and connect to platform 2 using a single lift and no bridge.
A new ramp up to West Leven Street is also possible, but uncosted.
It is believed that several politicians are now prepared to work together towards a successful outcome. This campaign will not become dormant for the next 5 years.