Optimism ahead of announcement on Levenmouth transport study

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson will be attending the meeting.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson will be attending the meeting.

Plans to reopen the Levenmouth rail link could move further up the track this week, when the Transport Secretary visits the area.

The outcomes of the Levenmouth Sustainable Transport Study will be announced at a meeting tomorrow (Thursday), which will be attended by MSP Michael Matheson,

The previous stage of the study, which is appraising transport in Levenmouth, revealed that plans to reopen the rail line between Methil docks and Thornton North Junction was one of six options put forward for more detailed study.

And campaigners hope that this week’s announcement could be another step in the right direction.

“We’re not expecting him to say ‘go ahead’,” said Levenmouth Rail Campaign member Allen Armstrong.

“We hope he’ll say ‘there is a case here, we’ll do further studies’.”

Mr Armstrong said it was “encouraging” that the Transport Secretary would be attending the meeting at the Fife Renewables Energy Centre.

While the study, which was commissioned by Transport Scotland, will not include recommendations, Mr Armstrong hopes it could ‘lean in a certain direction’.

“We’re always upbeat and positive,” he added. “The rail campaign is not going anywhere, whatever the outcome.

“But it’s a relief that to get to the end of this process, yet again. And it’s positive that Mr Matheson is coming.

“We think the case is absolutely compelling. If they can’t go ahead with this one, we don’t see how any other in Scotland could go ahead. There’s no other with this strong a case.

“The signs are good. We can’t see how they could turn it down, but we have been disappointed before.”

The previous stage of the study stated that the reopening of the line would bring major benefits to transport access and connectivity to and from the Levenmouth area for people and businesses, the economy, and accessibility and social inclusion. It did, however, warn that major consideration would have to be taken of the financial risks and costs involved in bringing the rail line up to standard and operating the service.

Local councillor Colin Davidson, chair of rail and freight for SEStran, welcomed Mr Matheson’s visit, adding: “I hope that he’ll validate and offer unconditional backing to the findings of the report that the mixed passenger, rail and freight option is the one most likely to bring prosperity, employment and economic growth to an area that’s been lacking in any meaningful government investment for decades.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “We know that there is a great deal of local interest in the outcomes of the Levenmouth Sustainable Transport Study. We are completing the final elements of the Detailed Options Appraisal and hope to be able to update the community on the recommendations of the study soon.”