The planned reopening of the Stirling?Alloa?Kincardine line will provide a number of benefits. Apart from the direct transport benefit to those living along the route the most widely publicised are the effects on the Forth Bridge in terms of reduced loadings and traffic movements. These benefits will result from the provision of a direct rail link between Hunterston and Longannet for the many coal trains running between the two locations daily. Currently the number of trains (loaded plus return empties) crossing the Forth Bridge to and from Longannet exceeds 120 per week. This includes a small number of ?as required? loads from Ayr and empty trips to Mossend.
At present, loaded trains of imported coal for Longannet power station have a choice after crossing the Forth Bridge. One option is to continue anti-clockwise around the Fife circle via Inverkeithing East, Thornton South and Thornton West Junctions to eventually reach Charlestown Junction and the freight-only line to Longannet. The other, more popular, option is for trains to run via Inverkeithing North Junction and reverse at Halbeath sidings on the east side of Dunfermline. From there trains run back through Dunfermline and onto the Longannet line at Charlestown Junction.
There are three sidings available at Halbeath, two on the down side and one up, each capable of accommodating a full length coal train.
Halbeath sidings will become largely redundant on the re-opening of the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine line which will enable these trains to turn north off their current route at Carmuirs West Junction and, by running via Stirling and Alloa, reach Longannet from the west.
The majority of the attached images are concerned with activity in and around Halbeath sidings on the morning of 22 June 2006.