WEST FIFE looks set to be on track for electric trains after the proposal was included in Transport Scotland's latest Strategic Projects Review.

Decarbonisation is being planned for several lines across the country with the Fife Circle, the Borders, Barrhead and East Kilbride all being highlighted for the change.

The proposals will be subject to a business case assessment, however, it is hoped, if successful, electrification would improve journey times and strengthen the reliability of both freight and passenger rail services.

The latest review said capacity could be also be expanded.

"These provide indirect benefits because of the new incentives for passengers and freight to switch from road to rail," it explained. "Electric rolling stock has lower operational and maintenance costs than diesel.

"Replacing diesel trains, the largest source of rail carbon emissions, with cleaner technologies offers multiple benefits in addition to helping meet net zero targets."

The news of the potential decarbonisation of the Fife Circle has been welcomed by Railfuture Scotland, who believe the move is long overdue.

Its secretary, Jane Ann Liston, said: "Electrification of the Fife Circle, and also the line between Edinburgh and Dundee, was first proposed as part of the EGIP (Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Plan/Project) over a decade ago before it was cut back, so this essential environmental improvement is long overdue.

"It is, though, not clear how this set of proposals tie in with the reductions in service in the new ScotRail timetable, due to begin in May just a few weeks after the Scottish Government takes over the network.

"The great danger is that reversing the COVID-influenced trend back to cars and getting people back onto trains will be made more difficult with only apparent lukewarm support for rail travel, a reduced and less convenient service and grand plans where, despite protestations about carbon reduction, roads are clearly king and all other modes of transport only also-rans.

"It is therefore to be hoped that people who really want to see a decarbonised transport system which is attractive enough to entice people out of their cars will participate in this consultation."

Greens MSP Mark Ruskell said the fresh strategy signalled a "major shift" towards public transport and active travel.

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP did, however, call for more long-term ambition within Scotland's 20-year vision for rail.

“The £5 billion we have secured for electrification of our railways will mark a step change in the quality and performance of services, including in Perth and Fife, while the focus on rail freight will enable a big shift from road to rail," he said.

“However, I want to see more ambition to expand the rail network in the future.

“This strategy sets a much better direction of travel for future investment and we will continue to campaign for local improvements in our public transport infrastructure across Scotland.

"It’s now important for people across Scotland to have their say, and I encourage constituents across the region to get involved in the consultation.”

The consultation can be found at https://consult.gov.scot/transport-scotland/strategic-transport-projects-review/.