RESIDENTS of the largest urban area in Scotland not served directly by rail have stepped up their campaign to reopen the mothballed route between the Fife towns of Leven and Thornton.

The LevenMouth Rail Campaign (LMRC), which covers the coastal towns of Buckhaven, Leven and Methil, as well as a number of smaller settlements, won a commitment from Transport Minister Humza Yousaf late last year that the business case for reinstating the route would be re-examined.

It was opened in 1854 but was last used by passenger trains in 1969, and has been mothballed since 2001, when the last coal trains ran on part of it to Methil Power Station.

LMRC has produced a glossy brochure outlining the case to reopen the six-mile link which would join the Fife Circle at Thornton station, near Glenrothes, with new stations at Cameron Bridge and Leven.

A series of public meetings is planned from later this month through to the summer.

Campaign chairman Eugene Clarke told The National: “The line was closed to passengers in 1969 and ironically it wasn’t as a result of the Beeching cuts.

“Transport Scotland asked what demand there would be for a reinstated service, but it’s difficult to quantify that given that people here have not had one for almost 50 years.

“However, through our own surveys, work by consultants and various petitions we’ve had it would seem that local people are 100 per cent behind the idea.”

The LMRC brochure, which was produced with the assistance of a group of railway professionals, regards Levenmouth as one of the best value re-opening schemes in Britain and the best in Scotland.

At 2017 prices, it puts the total cost at £56 million, which could be part-funded by developers.

However, it forecasts that the return on investment would be twice that.

And it uses human stories to illustrate how the new link would transform the lives of those living in the area.

One of those comes from Heather Gardner, from Lower Methil, who is fighting cancer and has to attend appointments in Edinburgh, which means a bus to Kirkcaldy and train to the capital.

She said: “I often have a heavy suitcase when going for my treatment. I am registered disabled and walk with a stick.

“I like to get the train for part of the journey as it has a toilet and this saves time.

“However, in my state of health that’s a big ask so the walking for the bus and train can really drain me as well as the time it takes for the whole trip.”

Kirsteen Reekie, from Leven, said she found it impossible to commute to Edinburgh and had to give up her job there.

“Although the work was only a standard 37.5 hour week, public transport connections meant I was away from home for more than 60 hours per week, so I couldn’t get back in time for the childcare arrangements.

“I am currently looking at new positions, mainly in the area of legal traineeship.

“If Leven had a train station that would get me to Edinburgh in a reasonable time, it would open up so much more options for me.”

Student Yusaf Mohammed, from Methil, said he spends five hours a day getting to his classes at university in Edinburgh.

“To travel by bus from my home in Methil involves a journey of two hours 30 minutes and requires leaving home before 6am to make sure I can get to a class starting at 9am.

“There is a similar journey back home. Five hours per day travelling is not conducive to good study practice.

“A reinstated direct rail service from Leven to Edinburgh would have a huge impact on me and my fellow students.”