Levenmouth rail link
|Proposed and former rail route|
The Levenmouth rail link (also called the Leven rail link) is a proposal to re-open 5 miles (8 km) of railway line in Fife, Scotland. The link would connect the town of Leven and other settlements in the Levenmouth conurbation with Thornton, and would join the Fife Circle Line at Thornton North Junction. The line is being promoted by Fife Council and the South East Scotland Transport Partnership (SESTRAN).
The line first opened as the Leven Railway on 3 July 1854 after receiving parliamentary authorisation in 1852. In 1861 the company merged with the East of Fife Railway to form the Leven & East of Fife Railway. Stations were previously open at Cameron Bridge and Leven. The line was doubled in 1909. Freight east of Leven ceased in 1966, bringing a closure of the line up to St Andrews, and all passenger services ceased in 1969. In 1972, the remainder of the line to Kirkland was singled.
Until 2001, the railway was partially used as a freight line. A short stretch has now reopened between Thornton and Earlseat to carry coal from the opencast mine.
Levenmouth is by far the largest urban area (37,000) in Scotland unserved by any direct rail link. Leven would also be the nearest station serving the East Neuk of Fife (approx 15,000). As of 21 January 2014, the Scottish Transport Minister indicated there were "no current plans to re-open the entire Leven- Thornton rail lnk for either passenger or freight purposes". At an estimated current (2015) cost of reinstatement (STAG Appraisal) of £76.8 million, the case for reopening of this line has a much stronger case than most other similar moves in Scotland. Apart from high demand from a major population and existing coal freight, the line passes the largest distillery in Scotland and close to Diageo's main Scottish bottling operations and ends at Leven close to the Methil Docks and the Fife Energy Park.
Cost, feasibility and services
SESTRAN conducted a feasibility study and Fife Council declared the project as a top-priority transport project. Initial findings from the study found that there was strong support for the link as well as a strong general case for it. Other findings include that there was a possibility of extending Edinburgh-Kirkcaldy services to Leven to give an hourly service to Leven, or extending both these services and the Edinburgh-Cowdenbeath services, giving a half-hourly service. It is also hoped that coal and whisky freight could be carried on the line, and that the developments will encourage regeneration of the area. Another study is currently underway to look into the development, however it is likely that work cannot begin on the line until at least 2015.
Stations are likely to be built at both Leven and Muiredge/Cameron Bridge. Rail freight facilities are also being considered in the Cameron Bridge area, where the Diageo distillery have a base, which was originally the Haig distillery; freight provision is also possible at Methil Docks. Cameron Bridge would serve as a park & ride station to surrounding areas.
It was concluded initially that the best option would be to reopen the existing line. As work cannot begin until 2015, bus based options are also being considered in the short-term.
- "Levenmouth Sustainable Transport Study STAG Part 1 Appraisal Report" (PDF). South East Scotland Transport Partnership (SEStran) & Fife Council. May 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "£2m pledge for Leven rail link". Fife Today. 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- Abbot, J.; Sully, J. (October 2008). "Hoisting the saltire high". Modern Railways. Ian Allan Publishings. 65 (721).
- Ewan Crawford (2002-10-22). "Leven and East of Fife Railway". RAILSCOT. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "Leader calls for rail link unity". BBC News. 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
- Aileen Robertson (2008-10-15). "Further study backs rail link reopening". Tay & Fife Courier. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "Business Plan 2008/09-2010/11" (PDF). South East Scotland Transport Partnership. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
- "Cameron Bridge, Fife". Gazetteer for Scotland. 2007. Retrieved 2009-01-05.