The East Fife Central Railway: The Lochty Line
The East Fife Central Railway, perhaps better known to all and sundry as the ‘Lochty Line’, was a rural byway with an interesting but somewhat sad history and, although it never lived up to the expectations of its promoters, it nevertheless managed to hang on to life until the era of Beeching and economic reality. From a junction with the Leven and East of Fife line near to the Haig distillery at Cameron Bridge, this most obscure of country railways valiantly climbed at a steady but taxing gradient through Kennoway and into that area of little known upland known as the Rigging of Fife. The line, having exhausted the meagre traffic possibilities of the village of Largoward and the farms around it then managed to end its 14½ mile wanderings by petering out near to the farm of Lochty, a place that was of little consequence and lay literally in the middle of nowhere. Such industrial potential as the line might have had was lost early on and for 50 years or more the lightly loaded thrice-weekly trains that served this unimportant limb of the North British managed to carry an ever-decreasing
amount of coal and agricultural produce to the scattered communities of this beautiful inland area of the part of the county better known for its nearby seaside resorts and harbours of the East Neuk.
A brief service of workmen’s trains for the colliers of Largobeath carried the only regular passengers on the line and the branch had become well and truly forgotten long before its final demise in the summer of 1964. Then, in an unexpected coda, the last mile or so found a new life a couple of years later as the Lochty Private Railway where a totally out of place ‘A4’ express locomotive trundled up and down with a sole coach – a far cry from the days when it was the pride of the East Coast main line from Kings Cross to Edinburgh. Other stock followed but a quarter of a century later fate took another turn and what was Scotland’s pioneer heritage railway line finally closed to all traffic in 1992 and from then on the rolling countryside of the Rigging once again resumed its quiet slumbers uninterrupted by the railway engine and clanking wagons of a previous era.
In this, the final volume of our railway rambles around the east of Fife, we take our leave and can only hope that, once the Galashiels line has re-opened, the Scottish Government will turn its pro-railway endeavours to two of the Fife lines that certainly deserve similar considerations, the branches to Leven and St Andrews. Alas, however, it is too late for the Lochty line to benefit from such largesse and to those who feel that this now forgotten lonely branch line should never have been closed there are undoubtedly more who think that, in retrospect, it should never have been built in the first place!
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