Just 45 minutes from Perth to Edinburgh
The direct rail route from Edinburgh to Perth via Dunfermline, Kinross and Glenfarg was closed in 1970 to make way for the M90 motorway. This short-sighted decision has ever since condemned inter-city rail travellers to journey times significantly longer than the road alternative. Edinburgh-Perth (and Inverness) trains were originally diverted via Stirling, but now most run via Ladybank – seriously uncompetitive with road. This has left the rail journey from Edinburgh to Perth slower than it was 100 years ago. The AA’s Route Planner estimates a (legal) car journey time of just 59 minutes, compared to a 2013 rail average of 1 hour 22 minutes.
Only the reinstatement of a direct link to Perth would truly open up routes from the north to Edinburgh. It would slash the journey time from Perth (and Inverness) to Edinburgh by up to 35 minutes; provide the opportunity to reduce journey times from Dundee and Aberdeen to Edinburgh; and allow the creation of new stations in key growth areas such as Kinross. The currently underutilised Perth station would be transformed into a new Inter-City hub – the catalyst for transport connectivity and urban regeneration.
Much of the proposed route alignment is still in existence. Some development has inevitably taken place at a number of locations, and a four-mile tunnelled section would be required to avoid the M90 and Glenfarg village. In the 2009 Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR) the Scottish Government estimated a cost of between £500m and £1bn to build a new railway from Inverkeithing to Bridge of Earn (south of Perth), but concluded that the benefits would not exceed the costs. However STPR did not:
- Analyse the benefits of an electrified railway (in particular faster journey times)
- Assess the merits of a new railway from Halbeath to Bridge of Earn – allowing Dunfermline to benefit from the project
- Evaluate an intermediate park-and-ride station at Kinross, serving a wide catchment
- Analyse the benefits of routing Aberdeen to Edinburgh trains this way – together with track upgrades in Perth, allowing reduced journey times and better connectivity.
If we are to start planning now for the transformation of rail travel between Perth and Edinburgh, top priority must be given to protecting the Inverkeithing-Halbeath-Bridge of Earn rail alignment from further inappropriate development.