The firms behind the controversial all-night freight trains on the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine (SAK) railway line have admitted they have always planned to run services through the night.

Furious nearby homeowners petitioned the Scottish Government to stop the overnight running of freight trains on the line, claiming disturbed sleep patterns and a reduction in house values.

Residents � including households in Clackmannan and Kincardine � have suffered night-time running of freight trains, transporting hundreds of tonnes of coal to Longannet, as frequently as every two hours between 11pm and 6am.

At a meeting of the public petitions committee of the Scottish Parliament last week, both Scottish Power and DB Schenker, which operates the trains, revealed they had always planned to use a round-the-clock operation to move the required amount of coal.

And they told the committee that they would not have supported the SAK rail bill had 24 hour running of the coal freight trains been blocked.

Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Dr Richard Simpson, who was MSP for Ochil at the start of the SAK bill process, said it was incomprehensible that Scottish Power and DB Schenker, having determined they would need night-time running, did not inform the bill committee or Transport Scotland. He added, "Scotland needs to take the powers to protect its citizens from nuisance if the current arrangements are so ineffective." Dr Simpson continued, "In spite of lengthy questioning of the witnesses including Clackmannanshire Council's Mac West, the Transport Minister, Transport Scotland, Scottish Power Network Rail and DB Schenker, it was clear that no one had the authority or the power to protect the householders affected by the noise and vibration.

"I welcome the decision of the committee not only to obtain further written evidence but to request that the Scottish Government review the whole issue to determine how I, as the then MSP, the bill committee and the public were so misled at the time in 2003." He vowed to continue to pursue the matter for all constituents affected in Clackmannanshire, Stirling and in other parts used for these heavy freight trains.

And he hoped that the mitigation measures, which he said were only now being put in place more than two years after the trains started to run, would bring some relief to the affected resident.

MSP for Ochil Keith Brown gave evidence to the committee in his role as Transport Minister.

He said, "As the local MSP, I have been working, for some time, with constituents to address their concerns.

"The petition has provided the opportunity to look afresh at this issue and to work towards a solution.

"I am happy to work closely with Transport Scotland, Network Rail, Clackmannanshire Council and local residents to address concerns about noise and vibration.

"However the Scottish Government has limited powers and many of the issues which need to be addressed lie within the scope of the Westminster Government.

"I am willing to co-operate with colleagues at Westminster to try to find the best way forward on this matter."