Page last updated at 00:13 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 01:13 UK

Rail link marks first full year

By Jo Perry
Central Reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Alloa Train Station
Alloa train station was reopened after a 40-year break

More than twice the number of commuters are using the new Alloa rail link than predicted, latest figures from Transport Scotland have revealed.

The 13-mile stretch of track is marking its first year in operation since being re-opened after a break of 40 years.

Since May 2008, more than 400,000 passengers have used the service, far in excess of the 155,000 predicted.

The huge number of commuters using the train has prompted ScotRail to boost the number of its services.

From next week, a new Edinburgh rush-hour commuter service will begin operation, in addition to the trains already running between Stirling and Glasgow.

The fantastic response from passengers over the first year of services from Alloa demonstrates how worthwhile this project has been
Stewart Stevenson
Transport Minister

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson, who last year attended the re-opening celebration for the track, said customer projections had exceeded all expectations.

He said: "The fantastic response from passengers over the first year of services from Alloa demonstrates how worthwhile this project has been.

"Reconnecting Alloa to the rail network after a gap of 40 years has provided new education and employment opportunities for communities across central Scotland and has played an important role in creating sustainable economic growth for the area."

The line's popularity has also led to studies to assess the feasibility of extending it across Fife and into Edinburgh.

The route was shut in 1968 as part of the controversial cost-cutting measures by then British Railways chairman Richard Beeching.

Coal wagons

However, a £35m plan to reinstate the line to Longannet power station in 2005, saw costs mushroom to over £85m and the re-opening delayed until 2008.

Those behind the plan are hopeful it will change the fortunes of Clackmannanshire which has seen the decline of its coal, brewing, textile and paper industries.

Despite its success, the re-instatement of the track has also brought problems for some locals.

Before the line was re-opened, freight carriers used the roads network to transport Longannet's coal.

However, huge coal wagons now transport their cargo during night freight runs along the line.

The issue has affected householders in Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire who have complained of their properties shaking and the noise waking them.

The area's politicians have vowed to work with Network Rail and freight carrier DB Shenker to address the issue.

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