A SHARE of £2 million will be used to explore the idea of a “pop-up” train station at Rhu and Shandon.

The money will be used to determine whether there is a public appetite for the service at up to 20 potential sites across Scotland.

The £2m “pipeline fund” was part of the Scottish Greens’ agreement with the minority SNP government in the 2018/19 budget.

Once the favoured stations are whittled down, the Advertiser understands the project will then test a selection of stations with “pop-up” facilities or conduct a feasibility study.

Ross Greer, West Scotland MSP for Scottish Greens, believes there is potential for reopening a link to Glasgow and the Highlands following the closure of the Rhu and Shandon railway stations in 1964.

He said: “People in Rhu and Shandon are well aware of the benefit that would come from having access to the rail network, as well as the economic opportunities a new train station can bring to the communities.

“With the new pipeline fund we’ve secured, people in the area can now put their proposals forward for a new station.

“Pop-up stations would be a step towards reversing the legacy of the transport policies of the 1960s when rail lines were ripped up and the car was king.

“They would enable testing of new stations and allow more robust business cases to be developed."

He added that there has not been a single new rail reopening anywhere in the country since 2006 – "not for the want of options".

In March 2017 the Advertiser reported that new housing, more community facilities and better transport links were key to ensuring that the town was ready for the forthcoming expansion of HM Naval Base Clyde.

The base is set to become home to the UK’s entire submarine fleet by 2020.

The MoD created a wishlist of plans in preparation for the expansion which included a new railway station at Shandon to accommodate those working at Faslane.

Helensburgh and Lomond’s MSP Jackie Baillie said she would be happy to work with the local community and politicians to build “a strong case” for a pilot scheme at Rhu and Shandon.

She said: “The reality is that the £2 million allocated to the pipeline fund in the Scottish Government’s budget is a relatively small amount of money so there will be some winners and many losers across Scotland.

“If there is interest locally in bidding for the scheme we need to make a start as soon as possible to ensure that commuters in Rhu and Shandon will benefit.”

West Scotland MSP Maurice Corry agreed with the testing of unused stations in principle, but raised concerns as the current rail network needs improved without adding additional stops.

He said: “My concern lies in the fact we can’t operate our current services efficiently and yet want to spend taxpayers money on potentially outdated sites.

“Investment is desperately needed to upgrade what we already have, both railways and roads. Rail users are well aware of station skipping to catch up time from our inefficient service, adding more stations before fixing these issues, could just lead to more station skipping on further lines.”

Lomond North councillor George Freeman said he would welcome the potential reintroduction of a railway station but is concerned the Scottish Government may block the proposal due to costs.

He told the Advertiser: “The only concern is the small number of people who may actually use such a facility and the parking provision that would be required to allow it to be used as a park and ride facility.

“It may well be that the estimated cost per passenger identified in a feasibility study for the infrastructure costs may be the issue that the Scottish Government would use to block such a proposal”.

Councillor Iain Paterson added: “Anything that helps connect our communities can only be a good thing, for the development potential of the area, in terms of business and tourism.”

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “Transport Scotland is supportive of the development of new and innovative initiatives which deliver benefits for passengers, freight customers and ?local communities.

"We are aware of this proposal and are giving it consideration.”

People in the community who really want to see Rhu and Shandon considered for the proposal are being asked to make their voices heard in the coming months.