GOVERNMENT ministers are to discuss the possibility of re-opening the railway for passenger services east of Alloa this week.

An update on the Alloa to Longannet, and possibly beyond to Dunfermline, rail link came at the chamber in Holyrood after local MSP Keith Brown asked a question in parliament.

Speaking to Michael Matheson, cabinet secretary for transport, Mr Brown hailed the success of the Alloa-Stirling line, which he drove forward when he was leader of Clackmannanshire Council and which has seen 4.1million passengers since its opening in 2008.

He told the chamber: "I am sure that the cabinet secretary will agree that the success of the service has surpassed all expectations.

"In the light of the interest in the Longannet site from Talgo, have any discussions taken place about extending the passenger service eastwards from Alloa?"

Mr Matheson agreed the Alloa-Stirling line "has been extremely successful" since it returned 11 years ago.

He added: "As Keith Brown will be aware, we have engaged directly with Talgo on its potential at the Longannet site.

"Since it announced that Longannet is its preferred option, we have been working with it on development of a factory that could create up to 1,000 jobs.

"One of the options that I have asked Transport Scotland and Network Rail to consider is maximisation of rail connectivity to the site, including the option of extending the existing passenger route east of Alloa, and of electrifying the line to the Longannet site, and potentially beyond it to Dunfermline, if appropriate."

Last month, an event organised by Green MSP Mark Ruskell sought to garner support for the re-opening of the line for passengers and collected views on how it could enhance people's lives.

Participants spoke of work, learning and leisure opportunities that could open up with further hopes for better connections to Edinburgh.

Representatives of Spanish train manufacturer Talgo, which is looking to build a factory at the site of the former Longannet Power Station, were also there to explain how the company's involvement could drive the project forward.

Following parliamentary business, MSP Brown, SNP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, added: "Expanding and improving the passenger rail services around Clackmannanshire is something I have long championed and recent developments around a potential passenger service east from Alloa are particularly encouraging.

"The Stirling to Alloa line has surpassed all expectations in terms of footfall and there is no reason why an eastward rail line from Alloa would not also prove a huge success.

"I will continue to do all I can to progress the case, having held productive meetings with Network Rail recently and I look forward to meeting with Mr Matheson to discuss in further detail."

Mr Brown is due to meet the transport secretary for further talks this week.