Rhu has “very real potential” for a pop-up railway station, according to a Green MSP who is campaigning for better access to public transport.

Ross Greer, who represents the West of Scotland, made the comment after visiting the sites of the long-closed stations at Rhu and Shandon on the West Highland railway line on Friday with members of the villages’ community council.

The Greens pushed for, and won, a £2 million fund to investigate new ‘pop-up’ stations across Scotland as part of this year’s Scottish budget.

Mr Greer 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.

“Rhu and Shandon are two potential sites we mentioned when the Greens secured this rail fund and I’ve offered my help to unlock some of the £2 million allocated to the fund for feasibility work.

He added: “I’m also interested in the idea suggested by some constituents that this could be combined with re-opening the Craigendoran Upper platform, to allow commuting to Hermitage Academy for example.

“There are clearly some challenges with Shandon in particular but Rhu certainly has the potential for a successful station reopening.

“Issues such as parking need careful consideration but other stations with few adjacent facilities and high local usage show that it is no barrier to making a station work for the community.”

However, a recent survey conducted by the community council showed little support for reopening the stations and ex-provost Billy Petrie has doubts there would be any demand from rail passengers.

Mr Petrie, who represented Rhu and Shandon for many years as an elected member of Argyll and Bute Council, said: “For a start, it’s an infrequent service with long gaps between trains so I think usage would be extremely low.

“The line is situated at the top of a steep hill with very little space for parking.

“Personally, I don’t think people would relish walking up there on a dark evening.

“Since the days when the station was open, transport links have improved immensely.

“People would prefer to use Helensburgh Central which has frequent trains to Glasgow and Edinburgh and there are first class bus connections to the station and further afield.”

“And, of course, the over-60s now have the added benefit of free buses.

“In addition, compared to years gone by, virtually all households have cars – in many cases more than one.

Mr Petrie said if the survey showed most people supported the re-opening of a station, he would respect their wishes.

“It certainly wouldn’t be a blot on the landscape,” he added.

“It would simply be a shelter and many people may view it as an asset which would not do the village any harm, but I can’t see many people coming from Oban or Mallaig wanting to disembark at Rhu and Shandon.”

Jack Rudram, convener of Rhu and Shandon Community Council, told the Advertiser the survey in the villages came to no clear conclusions on whether the majority public would welcome a station.

He added that with community council elections looming in April, it was unlikely that the necessary arrangements for funding to explore the feasibility of stations could secured in time.

* See also Ross Greer's Community Column, published in the March 29 issue of the Advertiser.