Rail campaigners believe the proposed train factory at Longannet should fast-track the electrification of the Fife rail network.
Spanish rail company Talgo recently signed a Framework Agreement to build a train factory at the site of the former West Fife power station, which will include electrifying an existing freight line between Alloa and Longannet and potentially bring new stations into use.
Following a commitment from the Scottish Government to decarbonise train travel in Scotland by 2035, the Fife Rail Forum says electrification of the kingdom’s network would not only address the ongoing problems of poor service in the region but also unlock proposals to open new lines and stations.
The forum, organised by Green MSP Mark Ruskell, consists of campaigners from Levenmouth, St Andrews, Newburgh, Kincardine and Alloa, working on local plans to reconnect communities to the rail network.
Mr Ruskell said: “The Scottish Government now recognises we’re in a climate emergency, so we need to see some bold action.
“Decarbonising our rail network is obviously a necessary step, but we also need to make rail a reliable and accessible option so that more people get out of their cars and onto a clean, low-carbon rail network, which will make a big contribution to carbon reduction.
“The announcement from Talgo has been a huge boost to campaigners, and should ensure that the first part of the Dunfermline to Alloa line is electrified.
“The new Levenmouth line will be electric-ready too and together, these projects should be the catalyst to upgrade the whole network in Fife to electric.
“For too long Fife has been let down with a sub-standard service and dirty, out-of-date diesel trains that have been rejected on other routes.
“It’s time Fife commuters get the service and network they deserve, just as Edinburgh to Glasgow and the Falkirk, Stirling passengers are now enjoying with clean, faster electric trains.”
A spokesperson from the St Andrews Rail Link campaign said building a new, electrified, St Andrews line, would be an “obvious move”, particularly as the Edinburgh to Dundee route is already on the list for electrification.
“This would accord with the University of St Andrews’ aim to be carbon neutral and Fife Council’s recent declaration of a climate emergency,” the spokesperson added.
Electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Dundee, including the Fife Circle, is programmed to take place at some point, although other projects have taken precendence and it is unlikely to happen in the next five years.
Transport Scotland says electrification of Scotland’s railway network is a key component of the Scottish Government’s commitment to improving rail services and tackling climate change, adding it “remains committed to a rolling programme” of works.