PASSENGER rail services could once more open up Kincardine and West Fife to central Scotland if a feasibility study gives backing to the idea.

With Longannet Power Station set to shut next year, the absence of coal trains would free up capacity for passenger services so that areas like Kincardine, Culross and Low Valleyfield would have better links to Edinburgh and Glasgow, bringing a boost to both the economy and Fife commuters.

Labour’s Thomas Docherty and Cara Hilton wrote to SEStran recently asking for a feasibility study into the project and the transport partnership has now agreed to look at the plans.

Russell Imrie, chair of SEStran, said, “I fully agree that the regrettable announcement of the closure of Longannet Power Station also gives rise to an enhanced opportunity to utilise the track for a West Fife rail passenger service.” He went on to explain that a 2009 study into improving Clackmannanshire-Fife-Edinburgh transport links found that the most cost-beneficial solution would be to extend the existing Glasgow – Alloa service to Edinburgh via West Fife and via a new Charlestown Chord, to provide a direct Alloa – Edinburgh service with several new stations in West Fife.

The estimated cost came in at around £65million and the economic outcome was described as “moderately positive” but did not include all elements that would be required for a scheme of this magnitude.

“Furthermore, with the study now being nearly six-years-old, it would need to be refreshed should the project be taken a further step forward,” added Mr Imrie. He also pointed out that transport funding for Regional Transport Partnerships had been largely transferred to local authorities.

“We are now very much depending on the local authorities to provide the major part of the funding for transport studies such as the one for West Fife but it would, of course, also be of significant advantage if Transport Scotland could be a funding partner as well as a stakeholder in such a study,” he said.

“I will therefore ask my director to contact the two authorities and Transport Scotland, as well as other relevant bodies such as Network Rail and ScotRail, to see if resources can be found to instigate a renewed West Fife transport study.”