THE prospects of reopening the Dunfermline to Kincardine rail line to passenger services will be outlined in a report which goes before councillors tomorrow (Friday).

The report, prepared by engineering consultants Scott Wilson, for the South East of Scotland Transport Partnership (SEStran), examines four options for reopening the line: l Option A - using the existing line from Alloa to Rosyth with passenger and freight services, with stops at Clackmannan, Kincardine and Cairneyhill and the Charlestown Chord in place. Services could be run hourly as an extension of the Glasgow-Stirling-Alloa service to Edinburgh and vice versa; l Option B - as for option A but without the Charlestown Chord, which would require a switch-back operation and an additional rail service time of 15 minutes; l Option C - using the existing line for freight, with a new express bus service along the A985, stopping at Clackmannan, Kincardine, Cairneyhill and onto Edinburgh; l Option D - as for Option C but with a new express bus service along the A907, with stops at Clackmannan, Oakley and onto Edinburgh.

The report recommends Option A, identifying it as the most cost-effective, followed by Option B.

It adds that upgrading the line would cost £65 million and recommends that if Option A was taken forward, an operational assessment should be carried out to assess train path availability, as there is a shortage of rail capacity on the approaches to Edinburgh, and its possible impact upon journey times.

The reopening of the line is one of several proposals by SEStran which examine the improvement of "passenger transport connectivity" in south-east Scotland.

As the project is not listed for Scottish Government funding, the report states "it would ... be prudent for SEStran, together with Fife and Clackmannanshire, to engage in serious discussion with Transport Scotland how this project may sit relative to current STPR (Strategic Project Review) projects and what proposals there may be to review the STPR".

Councillor Tony Martin, chair of Fife Council's environment, enterprise and transportation committee, said the link would be an "important transport junction".

He added, "It'd be very important for Fife if we could link Kincardine back in with Dunfermline and that obviously helps with Rosyth as well. There are lots of benefits if this were to be done.

"Unfortunately it's another thing in that long list of transport things that you want to get done.

"Funding for the second Forth crossing has still not been sorted out and we know that nothing else will happen until after that is paid for. That's 2017.

"Having said that we never thought that this would be viable for another 10 years so it does give us time to get funding packages together.

"The most important thing is that it really means that the rail line that goes into Rosyth Dockyard has got a link into a line apart from Inverkeithing so it makes it two ways.

"It means people from Dunfermline could get a link all the way to Glasgow. It's a pretty long way to go but it could be done and that's a good thing." West Fife Villages SNP councillor Bill Walker said he "wholeheartedly welcomed" the news, saying there was a positive case for reopening and upgrading the line.

He said, "The line would have to be technically upgraded but this has already been done between Alloa and Kincardine for coal trains delivering to Longannet power station.

"The study also proposes opening rail stops at Kincardine, Cairneyhill and perhaps in Fife elsewhere, with a chord built at Charlestown so that trains can travel to and from Rosyth and beyond to Edinburgh without having to shunt into Dunfermline.

"The upgraded line is also envisaged as providing integrated links to Rosyth ferry port and the proposed container port at the west side of Rosyth.

"Commercially this makes excellent sense for freight and, in addition to getting traffic off the roads, would provide convenient links for passengers." He added, "The recently reopened line from Alloa to Stirling and beyond has resulted in passenger usage through to Glasgow being four times higher than that originally planned.

"The report suggests that the hourly direct Glasgow passenger service could be extended right through to Kincardine, Cairneyhill and Rosyth.

"Fife commuters would benefit plus this would also help to attract visitors into Fife.

"I sincerely hope that all West Fifers will get behind these moves to help improve our transport connections, the environment and the economic benefits that a revitalised railway line will bring."