Work is starting to reconnect Leven, in Fife, Scotland, to the national rail network as Network Rail begins to clear vegetation on the Levenmouth line.
Engineers will also be carrying out site survey and geological investigations to inform the development of the project, which will see the reinstatement of 19 single track kilometres of railway and two new modern accessible stations at Cameron Bridge and Leven. Provision will also be made to electrify the line in the future.
Although it closed to passengers in 1969, and freight traffic to Methil power station ended in 2001 when the plant closed, the line still exists, but is heavily overgrown. Ahead of work starting, Network Rail has undertaken environmental and ecological surveys to develop appropriate methods of working to safeguard species, roosts and habitats of value.
As well as using chainsaws, and chipping machines to clear the vegetation, the first phase of the work will also include surveying, drilling boreholes, sampling ballast and extracting core samples to assess the condition of the ground under the railway. A variety of equipment, including boring rigs, and drills, will be used all along the line, with work ongoing until early 2021.
Graeme Stewart of Network Rail’s Levenmouth project team said: “Although still at a very early stage, it is fantastic to see work happening literally preparing the ground and to inform the design of the line.
“We have been working on developing a range of options which will define what the project looks like and how it is delivered and, as part of this, we have been meeting with and listening to local groups and organisations in the area.
“The development and delivery of the project will be in discreet phases with the first visible work; removal of vegetation to enable site and geological investigation SI/GI the start of a process which will culminate on the community once again having access to the mainline rail network.
“As well as the promise of better connectivity this scale of investment to improve our transport infrastructure will help to deliver benefits to the economy. It will act as an enabler for growth, provide better access to employment and education opportunities and expanded social and leisure options for people all across the area.”