WEST FIFE commuters may benefit from a new £2 million community rail fund announced by Transport Scotland.

The ‘Pre-pipline local rail fund’ will be available from April and will provide a grant to develop community-led options to improve local rail connections.

A long-running campaign has been calling for the Forth Circle, which has been used in recent years for Longannet coal trains, to be re-opened and provide a direct link between Dunfermline and Glasgow.

Kincardine Community Council has welcomed the announcement and will now apply for funding.

Chairman Donald Campbell said: “We just don’t have the money as a community council to carry out surveys so we needed help from something like this.

“I read the application as soon as it was available and we’re looking to have a meeting with stakeholders on April 27 because there will be a lot of communities that want the funding.

“We have lots of support from Douglas Chapman, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Mark Ruskell, our three councillors and Fife Council.

“It looks positive but there is a long-term scale on these things.”

The Scottish Government say investment in railways to connect communities remains a priority and the new fund will enable local communities to appraise and potentially bring forward proposals aimed at tackling specific local rail connectivity issues. Investing in the appraisal work will then allow them to consider these local priorities when planning future investment in Scotland’s railways.

Mark Ruskell, Climate Change spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: “It’s great to see the Green budget deal delivering a community rail fund to help unlock the potential in so many parts of Scotland, where a connection to the rail network would improve local economies and access to jobs and education, and also help reduce the climate pollution caused by private car use.

“Communities such as Kincardine in my own region have long had a vision of a better rail service, and this new fund will give all of them the opportunity to move forward with their business cases.

“By influencing the government’s rail investment strategy, Green MSPs are ensuring communities who want to be connected are no longer played off against each other to prove who is most in need, and we are accelerating Scotland’s low-carbon journey, so our infrastructure is fit for the future.”

Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman met Scottish Government Transport Minister Humza Yousaf last week to discuss transport issues in West Fife, such as the West Fife Rail Link.

Mr Chapman said: “The meeting was very positive and I am sure we can make a lot of progress on all our West Fife transport projects that are either under way or at the planning stage.

“I also met with Kincardine Community Council representatives recently and we are planning to meet again to see how we can best pursue the West Fife Rail Link.

“The Scottish Government budget contained a £2m allocation for a community rail fund and I am sure an application for some of this funding will be part of the West Fife Rail action plan to deliver on Fife’s ‘missing link’ between Dunfermline and Alloa.

“Clearly some of the issues we’ve had with ScotRail are of concern but there has also been a great reduction in trains skipping stations in recent months and I am working hard to bring real improvements to the services for my constituents who use the Fife Circle routes on a regular basis.”