Network Rail has begun the building of the Levenmouth Rail Link after Transport for Scotland gave the go-ahead for the huge £116.6m project.
Initial work will see the removal of the original trackbed and other route preparation tasks ahead of the reinstatement for the double-track railway and passenger services to Leven.
The use of the majority of the current double trackbed will bring a cost-effective delivery of capacity for passenger, charter and freight service growth alongside a step-change for new journey opportunities throughout the broader economic area for places of education, work and leisure.
Diesel service will be the first to run on the line ahead of its conversion to electric operation which will be carried out at the first available opportunity. The electrification will be carried out as part of the Scottish Governments decarbonisation action plan which will allow for its earliest possible transition to electric services which in turn will reduce future passenger disruption whilst making sure that the work is carried out as cost-effectively as possible.
The huge project will also see two fully accessible stations built at Cameron Bridge and Leven which will benefit from active travel access infrastructure providing local communities with increased connectivity.
As part of the project, an exploration into the potential opportunities for freight and tourist/charter rail operations will be carried out to maximise the value of this transformational investment for the Levenmouth area.
Bill Reeve, director of rail, Transport Scotland said: “The Levenmouth Rail Link demonstrates our ambition not just for improving and investing in Scotland’s Railway, but also our commitment to communities as new rail links bring many additional benefits such as connectivity to the wider economic area to allow new journeys for work, education and leisure.
“Our experience from the highly successful Borders Railway project makes clear the maximum benefits of the railway investment are realised where they are delivered as a package of improved transport measures and underpinned with community initiatives and projects. That is exactly what we are doing at Levenmouth as we work towards our decarbonisation and net-zero targets.
“It will give people the opportunity to travel to and from Levenmouth more sustainably and by including active travel links, we can encourage greener end-to-end journeys.”
Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “Scotland’s Railway has a great record of opening new stations and new lines, which help to drive further investment in communities and create new opportunities for local people.
“Construction of the new Levenmouth Rail Link is a major step towards transforming travel in the local area by creating new transport hubs connected to communities by active travel routes to enhance connectivity.
“But more than this, it has the potential to improve social and economic conditions and deliver opportunities for jobs, education, recreation and tourism and make a real difference to people’s lives.
“We are committed to working alongside the Scottish Government to open up our railway to as many communities as possible across Scotland and look forward to adding this new line onto the rail network.”
Fife Council Co-Leader, Cllr David Alexander, said: “We’re delighted work has started to return the rail line to Levenmouth. This link will increase employment opportunities, as well as improve access to education, health and leisure services for the whole area.
“Fife Council is committed to improving life-chances for all, and this means providing local jobs for local people and improving connectivity and regional transport.
“It’s exciting times for Levenmouth. There’s been a lot of hard work going on in the background and now we’ll start to see Levenmouth’s connected’ future start taking shape.”
Fife Council Co-Leader, Councillor David Ross added: “As a Council, we’re in full support of this project. It’s critically important because by improving transport to the area we’ll unlock growth, jobs, tourism and new housing.
“Our Levenmouth Reconnected Programme will maximise the economic and social value of the new Levenmouth railway to the local area – developing initiatives and projects that build on the railway investment-led opportunity. The aim being to benefit people already living here and attract new business, investment and visitors from elsewhere.”