The voluntary, community based organisation, Newburgh Train Station Group (NTSG), has prepared a STAG pre-appraisal transport study using its own resources and time and without funding from other bodies. It was undertaken because it was not being addressed by other work either in the rail industry or wider transport planning community. The community decided not to wait for the appraisal process to be initiated by others, but to start the ball rolling, as far as it could. The project is unique because the work to date has not been done by a transport consultancy, local authority transport planners or national level planners, but by the community for the community, using the publicly available STAG Guidance documentation. It represents a burst of activity that has had a very long fuse, stretching back for years in Newburgh's case. Difficult and time heavy access to the main city regions in Scotland, and Fife too, compromises the accessibility of employment and education opportunities (and it may also be that current transport connectivity is constraining access to higher value employment opportunities), especially for those without access to a car. Similarly compromised is the access to health, social and cultural facilities which are increasingly concentrated in fewer locations, mostly all city based.
Tourism is a key actor in the potential to unlock growth in Newburgh. Improved public transport connectivity would help here and provide significant economic and social benefits to the local area.
Any share of prosperity and development Newburgh can claim is negated by the high reliance on private car use combined with a poor share of sustainable transport modes. Bus is the only mode available, often unpredictable, and with restricted travel times at weekends and evenings.
From the pre-appraisal study opportunities were identified and three considered as options worth exploring further: car sharing, upgraded bus services and provision of a railway station.
Improved bus services providing better work-time connections, a direct route to Cupar and more evening and week-end services would address some of the issues. However, bus operators are reluctant to invest without council subsidy and there appears to be no scope here at present. If cycle pathways were built, cycling could provide some opportunity in shorter ranges, particularly for linking nearby Abernethy with Newburgh and Sustrans are open to proposals here.
Further transport appraisal work would take the pre-appraisal to the next stages, examining in greater depth the potential solutions, rail being one of them. NTSG is currently looking to register as a community based charitable organisation in order to formalise its governance status more fully in anticipation of raising funds it may need in future from sources it cannot presently approach and also to be in a stronger position to enter into formal partnership with Fife Council and South East Of Scotland Transport Partnership (SEStran). Looking to the future, it will also be in a position to become a community focus for all transport issues affecting the area and develop a range of projects accordingly.