Rail cancellations putting Scotland’s reputation as the home of golf at risk


North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie has warned transport minister Jenny Gilruth that a host of rail cancellations during this summer’s Open golf championship will put the country’s reputation as the home of the sport at risk, as he called for the government's contingency plans to be published "as swiftly as possible".    

The 150th Open Golf Championship is to be held in St. Andrews 10th-17th July. According to the organisers, the R&A, 290,000 tickets have been sold and it is expected to generate around £200 million in total economic benefit to Scotland.  

On the four competition days play runs from 6:35am-8:30pm Thursday & Friday and 8am-7pm Saturday & Sunday.     

On the Open website spectators are advised:  

To minimise road traffic congestion, The R&A is asking spectators to consider the use of public transport, which will be significantly enhanced for travel convenience. There will be no public car parking available at St Andrews Links or in the immediate surrounding area. All public parking will be provided at managed Park & Ride sites.  

ScotRail provides train services from destinations across Scotland to Leuchars – the nearest station to St Andrews.     

An enhanced service will be in operation during the week of The Open, with additional capacity on key routes from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen and special services running earlier in the morning and later in the evening. A bus connection will be available from Leuchars Train Station directly to The Open.

However, according to the new timetable, the last train to Edinburgh leaves at 7pm and the last to Dundee at 9:16pm, although very few onward services leave for Dundee after 7pm.   

On Tuesday 24th May, Jenny Gilruth told Parliament that contingency plans are being drawn up for major sporting events such as Scotland’s World Cup qualifiers. Mr Rennie is now demanding that these plans are published as swiftly as possible, and that additional staff are seconded to Transport Scotland if it is necessary to make this happen.    

Mr Rennie said:    

“This special 150th anniversary edition of the Open is the biggest event in golf so it’s only appropriate that it take place at the home of golf in St Andrews.    

“Years of planning has gone into this event, and it is expected to bring in millions of pounds to the local economy. However, that is being put at risk by the SNP/Green government’s rail cancellations.  

“These cuts will mean more people forced into cars, overflowing parking sites and attendees having to leave early. That means not only will they miss out on the sporting event that they have travelled so far for, but they will not linger in St Andrews spending money with local businesses.  

“As a Fife MSP, the Transport minister ought to know the importance of events like this. We need urgent confirmation that either services will be restored, or local infrastructure and transport will be beefed up to cope with the huge numbers of people heading to St Andrews. That means the government must publish their contingency plans as swiftly as possible and if necessary second more staff to Transport Scotland to make that happen.   

“With the eyes of the world on St Andrews, the dangerous incompetence of the SNP and Green government is putting our reputation as the golf capital of the world at risk.”  


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