HOPES of reinstating passenger services on the Alloa to Dunfermline railway line have taken a "big step" forward with the launch of a feasibility study.

A strategic transport pre-appraisal, commissioned by Fife Council, will be carried out by consulting firm Capita in the near future.

The resulting report will then inform a more comprehensive study which will look at the regional transport network as a whole and help to guide the regeneration plans brought on by the closure of Longannet Power Station in March 2016.

Douglas Chapman, MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, met transport minister Humza Yousaf at the Scottish Parliament last month to state his case for bringing back passenger trains.

He said: "We discussed the development of the existing coal train line that runs from Dunfermline to Longannet, through Clackmannanshire.

"The retention of this line is a key part of our transport infrastructure. It would also breathe new life into Kincardine and villages in Clackmannanshire, following the closure of Longannet.

"This substantial commitment from the Scottish Government to carry out a full study into the feasibility of a rail link being delivered is a big step in the right direction."

Restoring passenger services between Clacks and Fife has garnered cross-party support at Holyrood, as well as from residents in Clackmannan who would hope to see a new station built in the town.

Mark Ruskell, Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said: ''Re-opening old railway routes to both passengers and freight was a key commitment in the Scottish Greens Holyrood manifesto; I'm delighted to see the Alloa to Dunfermline route progressing with the announcement of this pre-appraisal report.

"The re-opening of Alloa station nearly ten years ago has been a huge success, and we need to continue to build on this and open up new employment and investment opportunities between Clackmannanshire and West Fife.

"I would like to see cross-party commitment to bringing this project to fulfilment, and support from both Clackmannanshire and Fife councils will be vital.

"It also needs to be combined with investment in the necessary infrastructure, including improved access for trains arriving at Stirling station from Alloa, to make sure that everyone can benefit from better sustainable transport options."

Conservative MSP Alexander Stewart added: "We in the Scottish Conservatives recognise the clear advantages of rail travel and very much support the proposed feasibility study to be carried out to establish the benefits this project would present to the Clackmannanshire area versus the required cost.

"Looking at ways to improve the transport links between the Wee County and Fife is incredibly important. There are also other transport-related issues within Clackmannanshire that must be considered.

"Passengers accessing rail services at Alloa often struggle to get parked given the parking restrictions within the town centre and at Alloa Station itself.

"The land adjacent to the railway station has been safeguarded for expansion of the car park but there has been no clear commitment to develop the land for this purpose."