Re-opening the railway line between Alloa and Dunfermline to passengers will be considered by an incoming SNP government, the party announced today.
The move, revealed in the SNP’s Holyrood election manifesto, comes a month after the last coal trains used the line to Longannet Power Station near Kincardine before the plant’s closure.
Campaigners for the freight route to be used to provide direct trains between Dunfermline and Glasgow said it showed the party was taking the proposal seriously.
The SNP manifesto stated: We will examine the case for an extension of the Stirling-Alloa rail line to Dunfermline by upgrading the existing Longannet freight line.”
The Scotsman understands that although the single-track route is still in place, improvements would be required for it to take regular passenger trains for the first time in 86 years.
These include to the ride quality, which is lower for freight trains.
The Dunfermline-Longannet section was used by coal trains to supply the power station from the east until the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine line was re-laid in 2008, which provided access from the west.
ScotRail trains use the line only as far as Alloa.
Re-opening the rest of the route to Dunfermline could now create a “Forth Circle” like the Fife Circle line between Inverkeithing, Lochgelly and Kirkcaldy.
A station could be re-opened at the historic village of Culross to improve access for tourists.
The Kincardine-Dunfermline line closed to passengers in 1930 but is used by occasional steam charter trains.
Martin Keatings, organiser of the Forth Rail Link campaign, said: “We are pleased to see that the SNP, as have most of the other parties, including the Scottish Socialist Party who were first to take up the cause, are taking the establishment of this rail link seriously.
“We are pleased that the incumbent SNP Government has made a commitment to the long-term economic security of local communities and the long-term economic viability of rail infrastructure in Scotland.
“We do, however, repeat the calls that the future of rail travel should not be turned into a political football, like so many other public services during an election campaign.
“What is needed is cross-party support across Scotland 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 Scotland.”
Paul Tetlaw, a rail campaigner for public transport lobby group Transform Scotland, has said: “It would be the perfect opportunity to build on the huge investment of constructing the route through Alloa to Kincardine, by creating a passenger service.
“It would open up the north bank of the Forth to all sorts of new travel possibilities, such as to the delightful village of Culross, and also provide access to both Glasgow and Edinburgh for work and leisure.”
A spokesman for the ScotRail Alliance, which includes track owner Network Rail, said: “We are always open to discussing proposals to enhance the railway if they have a viable business case and meet a clear need.”