A BID for Levelling Up money should be made to help get the West Fife rail link on track.

That's the view of Ronnie Collins, chair of the West Fife Villages Forum, who urged Fife Council to apply for the funds to re-open the line from Dunfermline to Kincardine and on to Alloa.

He's been backed by local councillor Sam Steele and, with the UK Government still to distribute £1 billion of Levelling Up cash, he wants them to start work now on a bid.

Ronnie said: "The rail link at Levenmouth is going ahead but I think there's bigger scope and potential to link this part of Fife through to Alloa and Stirling and Glasgow.

"It would mean you could move freight west, instead of everything going across the Forth bridges, which would alleviate pressure on the main lines.

"There's the transport aspect too. Dunfermline is getting bigger and bigger, you've got the western and northern expansion kicking-off so you need infrastructure in place for these people to move around."

A re-opened rail line would link into the Fife Circle and provide a direct route from Dunfermline to Kincardine, Alloa, Stirling and Glasgow.

Ronnie said: "Bringing in more transport links would increase capacity and help create jobs.

"It would be brilliant for the economy of Dunfermline and West Fife and you've got the green freeport coming here too.

"Longannet is geared up, you've got a serviceable plot on an industrial scale with massive potential for freight storage and freight movement right on the Forth.

"Companies moving here will want to move goods quickly and the rail link could only help.

"There's another £1 billion so there's no point waiting around, the council need to be prepared so when it opens up for bids they're ready to present their case."

While there was disquiet about the way the Levelling Up fund was distributed, with the UK Government deciding who gets what, there was £4.8 billion in the pot for local authorities to bid for.

In the last round, Fife Council applied for £89.2m and received £19.4m for projects in Levenmouth and Glenrothes. There's £1bn left for round three.

West Fife and Coastal Villages councillor Sam Steele said: "I agree with Ronnie, the West Fife villages get forgotten about all the time so this would be fantastic."

It had been thought the arrival of Talgo would strengthen the case for the re-opening of the West Fife rail line.

The Spanish firm announced in October 2018 that they wanted to open a train manufacturing plant at Longannet, which would create 1,000 jobs, but those plans seem to have hit the buffers.

Cllr Steele admitted: "It's all gone very quiet on the Talgo front but we should push on with the rail link in any case.

"The transport links in the West Fife villages – not just from village to village but into Dunfermline too – are utterly abysmal, so anything that could change that would be a bonus."

Fife Council's head of business and employability, Gordon Mole, said: "We're waiting for details of the process for the next round of Levelling Up funding.

"However, when the UK Government announces this, we will be able to look at what projects across Fife might be eligible for funding, including key transport links."

Cllr Steele has also put forward proposals for a transport interchange on the A985 and running shuttle buses to the villages.

Money for that would come from Fife Council's Community Recovery Fund and the idea is being developed.