Cost of reopening Levenmouth rail line rockets by nearly £50m

Trains will run to Leven again in two years’ time, Network Rail said today as it announced the start of construction work to re-open the mothballed Fife branch line.

Friday, 4th March 2022, 3:31 pm
Updated Friday, 4th March 2022, 6:27 pm

Scotland’s latest new rail scheme will see the return of passenger trains to Cameron Bridge and Leven after 55 years – the most populous part of the country without a rail link.

However, Network Rail said the scheme would now cost £116.6 million compared to Transport Scotland’s “initial estimates of construction and preparation costs of around £70m” in 2019 – a two-thirds increase.

Network Rail also said work was now expected to be completed by spring 2024 – later than the December 2023 date stated by its capital delivery director Kris Kinnear last June.

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The six-mile branch line, which branches off the Fife Circle at Thornton, opened in 1854 and closed to passengers in 1969, but operated coal trains on a section to Methil Power Station until 2001.

A new double-track line will be laid, which will be electrified for use by new electric trains to and from Edinburgh which will replace the initial diesel-powered services “at the earliest opportunity”.

Tourist charter train could also use the line, following the experience of the Borders Railway, opened in 2015, which did not initially include such provision.

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Jenny Gilruth visiting the Leven line as Mid--Fife and Glenrothes MSP in December, a month before being appointed transport minister. Picture: Scotland's Railway

Transport Scotland director of rail Bill Reeve 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.”

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, which includes ScotRail and Network Rail Scotland, 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.

“We are committed to working alongside the Scottish Government to open up our railway to as many communities as possible across Scotland.”

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