WEST FIFERS may not want a ‘Midnight train to Georgia’ but they do want a midnight train to … Cowdenbeath. 

Locals don’t want their nights out to Edinburgh cut short and businesses would welcome the potential boost to our economy if a later service was on the cards. 

That’s why this week, the Press is calling for a new midnight train to take West Fifers home from the capital on Friday and Saturday nights. 

Over the Fringe period, locals and tourists benefitted from an extra service just before midnight and it proved to be a hit. 

But with the festival finished, West Fifers are back to an 11.20pm last train home or face paying for an expensive taxi if they don’t want a mad dash to Waverley at the (premature) end of their evening.
Fife Council’s co-leader, MPs and commuters have backed the Press campaign.

MP Lesley Laird said: “Cutting the night short at 11pm is hardly an attractive alternative, is it? Even Cinderella got to stay out until the last stroke of midnight!

“The popularity of the midnight train between Edinburgh and Fife during the festival was plain to see and while we wouldn’t see those kinds of numbers in other months, I strongly suspect there would still be sufficient demand to make running a regular weekend late-night service worthwhile.

“I welcome the Dunfermline Press’ call for a midnight train and would urge ScotRail to consider launching a trial period to test the services’ viability.

“When Fifers go for a night out in Edinburgh, they don’t want to be paying exorbitant prices to catch a cab home.”

MP Douglas Chapman also lent his support to the campaign. He said: “I would certainly like the midnight train service trialled by ScotRail over a longer period outwith the Edinburgh Festival weeks.

"I am sure there is a market and if we could have a late-night reciprocal service to boost our own night-time economy in West Fife then that would get my vote too.”

For Fife Council, providing later trains from Waverley to Fife has been an issue that they say officers have been raising with rail operators for years, but without much success. 

Co-leader of the council, David Ross, said he would “absolutely” be behind the call for a midnight train at weekends. 

It’s understood that at a recent meeting between Fife Council and ScotRail, the rail company highlighted that many areas across the country had also been asking for later trains.

But they say there are particular restraints for both Network Rail and ScotRail because of maintenance work that tends to be restricted to Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. 

ScotRail have promised to look at this issue, however, as part of a major timetable review programmed for December 2019. 

Cllr David Ross said: “We will continue to push for later trains, particularly when there are special events on in Edinburgh, and ensure that the issue is kept on the table during timetable review.”

Maintenance works may limit how late trains can run in Scotland, but the same constraints don’t seem to apply south of the border. 

The Press has found that services from London Euston to Watford – a distance similar to Edinburgh to West Fife – run until 1.30am. So why are the rules different for us?

Commuter Lorna Hood said: “We love visiting Edinburgh but it’s a pity you have to get the last train back home when you have just started to enjoy yourself. 

“The economical value of increased late-night services would be astronomical I think. 

“As a Fifer, I want to explore different places and not having trains after 12 stops this.”

Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay councillor David Barratt, who was highly critical of ScotRail’s performance early in the year as part our ‘Crush Hour’ campaign, said the current timing of the last train to Fife from the capital was impacting negatively on business on both sides of the Forth. 

He said: “This as an important yet simple change that could be made to improve service provision for Fife residents but also help boost the local economy. 

“With events is the capital often finishing late in the evening, the prospect of having to run for the last train can be enough to put residents north of the Forth off and dissuade visitors from considering Fife as an option for accommodation. 

“The Edinburgh accommodation market is full to bursting and Fife is well placed to meet some of that demand.”

ScotRail told the Press that customers should see substantial improvements from the middle of 2019 once trains from the central belt are redeployed to Fife. 

In order make better use of these trains they will review and improve timetables and will begin to design a new timetable that will include a public consultation. 

A ScotRail Alliance spokesperson said: “The introduction of our new trains and the electrification of the central belt will allow us to make best use of our existing fleet and make positive timetable changes in Fife.

“Next year, we will begin to redeploy our existing class 170 trains to Fife and the Borders. These trains will add more than 5,000 extra seats each day.”