Last week the Managing Director of Scotland’s Railway (ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland), Alex Hynes, paid his first visit to Burntisland to meet a small group of local people to look at some of the issues affecting the station. This was as a result of a request by Cllr Lesley Backhouse.
Mr. Hynes was shown around the station and the immediate area. He was clearly impressed, as he later posted on Twitter – “Brilliant Burntisland! Fascinating visit to meet the local community to discuss improving access to the railway. Hadn’t fully appreciated the station’s heritage before!”
Before he caught his return (on time) train to Edinburgh, he said he would get together a group of “can-do people” from the rail industry and Transport Scotland and see what could be done “quickly”.
The saga of trying to get step-free access to Platform 2 at Burntisland Station seems to be moving forward positively. Improving the situation is an idea mentioned several times in Burntisland’s Community Action Plan, though campaigning had already been underway for a decade.
An application has recently been made to the Access for All Mid-Tier Programme with the support of local politicians and groups. This has now been passed to Transport Scotland for detailed consideration.
It is based on a plan for new lifts up to the existing footbridge. One problem with this idea is the way the railway industry works, and its concerns for safety, insiders say the line would have to be shut for several days.
Clearly this would cause disruption, but also require compensation to railway companies, adding to the cost.
In addition, the long delayed plan for electrification of the Edinburgh to Aberdeen route seems have become more likely due to the approval of the reopening of the Levenmouth rail line.
This would mean the raising or replacing of the current footbridge and, perhaps, making the proposed lifts redundant after a short life.
By contrast, a long ramp (similar to the one at Cupar) could be constructed without closing the line. Lifts have obvious advantages over ramps, but at Burntisland Station it is likely that lifts would be small and not able to be used by as many people with luggage, buggies and bikes as a ramp.
Alex Hynes was told about the fact that both waiting rooms are only opened for a few hours each day and also that Burntisland is the only station on the Fife Circle without tactile tiles near the platform edge.
Mr. Hynes took note of all the issues raised but said it was clear that the key issue was accessibility and he would go away and concentrate on this.
He also indicated that it would probably be easier to find money in Scotland rather than wait for Burntisland to qualify for money from the UK DfT.
Cllr Lesley Backhouse and Alex Hynes visits Susie Redman in her studio