The locking of the Ben Alder level crossing at Dalwhinnie has caused widespread consternation, and ScotWays is continuing its work to resolve the access problem created by Network Rail’s actions there. 

What is perhaps less well-known is that it is not at all unusual for concerns about Network Rail’s attitude to public access to be raised with ScotWays. One other such example is the case of various crossing points affected by Fife’s Levenmouth Rail Link project where again Network Rail is disputing any right of way status. ScotWays has been in touch with Fife Council’s access officer as well as Network Rail, in an attempt to safeguard crossings between Thornton and Leven. Unfortunately, it has proved very difficult to have any kind of productive conversation with Network Rail about protecting the existing public access network, let alone the opportunities for improving public access in conjunction with active travel plans. An exciting rail reinstatement project such as this should be exemplary in engaging with local communities, so ScotWays is very disappointed that this has not proved to be the case so far.

We know there are ScotWays members and others who have been working hard to make the case for retaining public access links once the railway has been reinstated, but more voices are needed. Particularly heartening has been a local petition initiative highlighting the recreational importance to walkers and cyclists of the routes which Network Rail proposes to sever. Please sign the petition if you have not yet done so. 

It helps raise the profile of everyone’s efforts if others, whether residents or frequent visitors to the area, also raise their own concerns about impacts on public access here with the local councillors or other elected representatives such as MPs and MSPs. 

It is utterly dismaying that Network Rail which is in the business of connecting people, has no apparent recognition of how vital these path networks are – its actions in effect build walls through and between our communities cutting us off from recreational opportunities.