Fife Council’s transport spokesman has poured cold water on plans for a Forth tunnel.
The Scottish Greens are mooting an underwater rail link between Kirkcaldy and Leith as part of a £22 billion vision to revolutionise rail travel north of the border.
Consultants commissioned by the party estimate the nine-mile link and a new underground station at Leith could be constructed for between £4bn and £6bn.
But Labour councillor Altany Craik, the council’s spokesman for transportation, said the notion of a tunnel years in the future wouls be no comfort to people returning to using the railway post Covid.
“We need realistic proposals for investment and improvement on both the Fife Circle and East Coast mainline not a project that might be delivered in future decades,” he said.
“We know that the service we endure is not good enough and that should be the focus of our thinking.
“Six billion pounds is a great deal of money that could be invested in truly addressing changing travel, and work, needs in our region. We shouldn’t be focusing on overheating the Edinburgh jobs market but rather creating jobs that won’t require a congested commute and will keep our carbon footprint down.”
He was speaking after the Scottish Greens unveiled their Rail for All report, compiled by transport consultants Deltix and commissioned by the party’s transport spokesperson John Finnie MSP.
It outlines a raft of improvements to Scotland’s rail infrastructure, including a new terminal station at St Enoch’s in Glasgow and full electrification of the inter-city network by 2030.
A Forth tunnel is described as a “game changer”, providing a rapid link for commuters and creating more capacity on the east coast network.
Plans for a Forth tunnel were previously considered ahead of the Queensferry Crossing being approved.
The idea, which was estimated to have a potential cost of £1bn more than a bridge, was rejected by Scottish ministers.
The tunnel plans previously considered related to a route between Rosyth and Bo’ness – about four miles shorter than the crossing from Leith to Kirkcaldy.
In the Rail for All report, consultants Deltix said: “An indicative first estimate of the cost of the under-Forth project is £4bn to £6bn, including the station at Leith, based on the out-turn costs of recent tunnelling projects.
“Using modern technology we suggest that two nine-mile, single-bore, rail tunnels are driven under the Firth of Forth from Abbeyhill to Seafield, between Kinghorn and Kirkcaldy, passing under Leith.
“These would be connected to the east end of Waverley station using the former Abbeyhill loop off the East Coast Main Line east of Calton Tunnel, with the railway burrowing underground below Leith (served by an underground station) then the Firth of Forth, returning to the surface near Seafield.
“It should be noted that there has been a long history of boring under the Forth for coal
mining, and railway tunnels much longer than this have become relatively common in