DISUSED railway station buildings are to be given a new lease of life under a £1.5 million fund launched by ScotRail and the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency.
The scheme will provide 50 per cent more cash than a previous initiative which has transformed platform premises across Scotland, including as cafés, bookshops and bunkhouses.
The latest Stations Community Regeneration Fund offers between £5,000 and £75,000 to transform redundant buildings on the ScotRail network.
Even bigger grants are available in return for detailed feasibility studies.
The money will assist with structural repairs and fitting-out costs.
A similar fund which operated from 2008 until the end of the last ScotRail franchise in March was worth £1m.
Premises already established include a cycle hire business at the 1848-built Pollokshaws West – Glasgow’s oldest surviving station – and an armed forces veterans’ centre at Dumbarton Central, which opened last week.
A bookshop and café will be launched at Kilmarnock next week, while a restaurant is being developed at Tain.
A model railway club uses Fort Matilda in Greenock, there is an art gallery at Kinghorn in Fife, and bunkhouses and other accommodation are offered at stations such as Tulloch on the Glasgow-Fort William line and Helmsdale in Sutherland.
More than 250 stations have also benefited from ScotRail’s Adopt a Station scheme, which includes developing floral displays and gardens.
Candidates for future work under the fund include Brora in Sutherland, which was opened in 1871.
Also being lined up for new uses are a former signal box at Aberdour in Fife and office space at Kilpatrick station in West Dunbartonshire.
David Lister, ScotRail’s safety, sustainability and assurance director, said: “We are aware of several disused premises across our network that could potentially be regenerated, if they fit the requirements of local groups or businesses.”
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, which includes stations’ owner Network Rail, said: “We believe the fund will make a real difference to customers and people living near stations – opening up social opportunities, restoring disused premises, and creating jobs.”
Infrastructure secretary Keith Brown said: “I have visited a number of these projects in the past and have seen first-hand how effective this model of funding has been for securing access to new premises for local businesses and community groups.
“Using formerly derelict buildings also breathes new life into Scotland’s stations, improving the rail experience for passengers around the country.”
Andy Savage, executive director of the Railway Heritage Trust, which has taken part in several station projects, said: “I’m delighted.
“A lot of listed buildings were brought back into use under the last scheme.”