LONGER trains at peak times could be on track for West Fife as passenger numbers are set to soar by 2020, a Network Rail report has revealed.

Train bosses say current capacity on the Fife-Edinburgh service will be “above 100 per cent” by 2019, with services “expected to experience crowding”.

And they admit more carriages are needed to meet the demand.

The service has been dogged by complaints about safety, overcrowding and reliability, particularly at rush hour - which led to the Press’ ‘Crush Hour’ campaign in previous years.

However, it has not yet been decided when the extra carriages will be added and fed-up commuters may have to wait until 2019.

The report proposes lengthening two morning peak time trains from three to four carriages and increasing one evening peak time train from four to five carriages.

It also suggests changing stopping patterns - increasing or decreasing the number of stations a train stops at - between Inverkeithing and Haymarket as another option to coping with the demand.

However, train lengthening looks the likely solution as it’s been “recommended for implementation”.

In the report, Paul Plummer, Network Rail’s planning and development director, states, “Continued investment is essential to meet the ever increasing demand from passengers and businesses to travel or move their goods by rail.

“We are committed to providing and supporting opportunities to maximise the potential and capability of Scotland’s railway.” Dunfermline and West Fife MP Thomas Docherty, who has met Network Rail and Scotrail directors about overcrowding on the service, “hugely welcomed” the recommendations.

He added, “It’s good news - all the stations in West Fife are compatible with longer six-car trains and we’re ready to go.

“But it’s having more carriages and that’s a Scotrail thing - Scotrail and Scottish Government need to find more rolling stock.” Fife Council confirmed that mainline stations in Fife would be able to cope with the demand, having had their platforms extended to take six-car trains and car parking facilities increased.

A Scotrail spokesperson said that any changes would be made in accordance with demand and existing levels of rolling stock.

The spokesperson added, “We are reading the report’s contents with interest.

“We constantly keep services under review and allocate our rolling stock to best meet the demands on the network.

“We are happy to work with industry partners to identify further ways to enhance rail services.” A Transport Scotland spokesperson echoed, “We welcome the study and consultation on rail needs over the next 30 years which takes particular account of the Scottish Government’s transport priorities as outlined in the Strategic Transport Projects Review.

“The study will help inform ministers’ specification for rail in Scotland from 2014 onwards and we look forward to working with industry partners in progressing rail services to meet both passenger and freight demand.”