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Campaigners enraged by perceived Levenmouth rail link delays

A section of the Leven line which has already been cleared for engineering works.
A section of the Leven line which has already been cleared for engineering works.

Campaigners have raised concerns about delays in the reinstatement of the Levenmouth rail link after it emerged a project manager has not yet been appointed for a key part of the process.

When cabinet secretary Michael Matheson announced the go ahead for the line in August 2019, he also instructed Fife Council to create a “blueprint group”, which would make sure that the local community was best prepared to benefit from the line when it is operational.

He specified that local people would be involved in the process and said he expected it to be in place by November 2019.

However, seven months on though, Fife Council is about to start its search for a project manager for the third time.

Eugene Clarke, from the Levenmouth Rail Link Campaign, said supporters were deeply concerned since there are only 20 weeks until the general design stage is due for completion. This will include details such the locations of stations, access, whether the line is double or single track and electrification.

Mr Clarke said the group’s members suggested a blueprint group, based on the experience of the Borders rail line, at a meeting with Fife Council’s co-leaders David Ross and David Alexander in 2018.

He said the proposal was rejected at the time and communication had been poor since then.

“One thing that has been clear from the campaign is that the public bodies involved despite their protestations to the contrary, place little value on the engagement of the communities they serve,” he said.

“We have already made it clear that a one-off two hour engagement exercise, as happened previously, is not acceptable to the Levenmouth public.

“We will be most affected by the railway and our voices should be listened to. And in the meantime we need action on the  blueprint group immediately.”

Ken Gourlay, head of assets, transportation and environment at Fife Council, insisted progress was being made.

He said: “This is an exciting opportunity for the region but it’s also a very complex picture and we want to make sure we get things right for everyone.

Mr Gourlay said a Levenmouth Reconnected leadership group and a working group, involving agencies like Transport Scotland, SEPA, Network Rail, ScotRail and the council, had already been created. A stakeholder group will be established in due course, involving the Levenmouth Rail Campaign group.

“We’re contributing to the option appraisal work for the rail line and possible station locations that’s being led by Network Rail and Transport Scotland,” he added.

“Local residents and community groups will be consulted on these options soon – hopefully in March. We’re also working closely with SEPA, the community and other partners on the River Leven project and its linkages with the rail line, particularly sustainable transport links.

“Things are actively progressing but it’s still early stages for this major development work. And, while we haven’t identified a suitable candidate for the Levenmouth Reconnected Programme Manager, we hope to appoint someone soon who will be dedicated to leading this project and community engagement work.”

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