TRANSPORT Minister Keith Brown officially opened the new �2.3m Carseview bridge, in Cowie today (Tuesday March 5) The project to replace the bridge is part of a wider �30m programme of bridgeworks across Central Scotland ahead of further future investment in the lines.

The overall programme will see over 20 structures altered as Network Rail prepares the way for the proposed electrification of lines linking Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa to Glasgow and Edinburgh between 2014 and 2019.

As part of the project, the original stone structure at Carseview has been replaced by a modern concrete bridge - increasing the clearance from the railway track below - while the project has also altered the local road alignment to improve the approaches to the bridge.

The bridge, which was originally constructed in 1848, carries the Bannockburn Road over the railway between Stirling and Larbert stations.

Mr Brown said: "I am delighted to see the opening of the bridge at Carseview which now paves the way for electrification of the Stirling-Alloa-Dunblane lines.

"This project - which includes �300,000 investment from Stirling Council - is part of a broader �30m programme of works funded by the Scottish Government to support the electrification of the network and further demonstrates our continuing commitment to Scotland's railways.

"In the short-term, road users will benefit from this new safer road alignment delivered through close partnership working between Network Rail and the local authority. Longer term the opening of the new bridge is an important milestone towards the electrification of the line here and the people of Stirling, Alloa and Dunblane can look forward to the faster, more comfortable and more reliable service this will bring, as well as the wider social, economic and environmental benefits."

Rodger Querns, Network Rail programme director for the project, added: "We have worked closely with Stirling Council, local landowners and local businesses to deliver this project as quickly as possible and in a way which benefits not only the railway, but road users.

"The investment at Carseview is part of an ambitious programme of enhancements we are delivering across the Central Belt as we seek to continue to improve the reliability and range of rail services available to the communities our network serves."

Stirling Council's environment committee convenor, councillor Danny Gibson, added: "Stirling Council has worked in partnership with Network Rail on the B9124 works to negotiate the realignment of the existing road. The new bridge and road improvements will be of great benefit to local people and businesses in the area. The Council contributed �300,000 to the �2.3 million scheme, which will provide a significant benefit to road safety."

Eastern villages councillor, Alasdair MacPherson said: "The newly aligned road has taken away a dangerous bend in the road which will be warmly welcome by Cowie residents.

"The contractors BAM deserve great credit as they completed the work on time and have carried out environmental improvements to Johnny's Burn and adjacent footpaths, which are regularly used by Cowie residents."