CAMPAIGNERS for a direct rail service between West Fife and Glasgow have been given a boost after the SNP vowed to take a look at the project in its manifesto.

The Forth Rail Link Campaign has been putting forward the case for an extension to the Stirling to Alloa rail line to Dunfermline by upgrading the existing freight-only railway through the now-closed Longannet power station.

The idea has already won backing from Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman and now Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, has agreed to examine the case if her party is re-elected.

Cairneyhill campaigner Martin Keatings, who delivered a petition on the matter to Holyrood last year, is pleased parties are taking the matter seriously but warned them not to turn it into a political football during the election campaign.

He said: “What is needed is cross-party support on what most agree is a vital transport link for Scotland. Only with national government and local councils working together, regardless of political opinion, can we ensure a 21st century rail network suitable for the needs of the general population of Scotland.

“It is great to see the SNP make this a pledge in the run-up to the Holyrood elections. What we now need is all parties to formally declare the same and not just stop on words but make a pledge to work to progress the project forward and work together with each other for the benefit of the electorate and this very important project.

“The establishment of the Forth Rail Link is only the beginning. Its construction increases the economic viability of the Levenmouth rail link and the St Andrews rail links. We should all be looking at this as phase one of a bright future for Scottish Rail.”

Dunfermline candidate Shirley-Anne Somerville welcomed the First Minister’s inclusion of the project in the manifesto and said: “I’m delighted that Nicola has listened to the case put forward by local campaigners. Both Douglas Chapman and myself have also taken every opportunity to persuade the Scottish government to carry out a feasibility study into upgrading this line. It’s great to see that commitment now written into the party’s manifesto.

“An extension to the Stirling to Alloa line would give West Fife a direct rail service to Glasgow without having to go through Edinburgh, providing a valuable boost to local towns and villages.

“Direct services would be good news for commuters who can get to work quicker and by using public transport. They would also give tourists easy access to the area bringing more money into the local economy and a boost for businesses.”