Many of ScotRail's stations, particularly on branch lines, have buildings which can provide premises for local businesses. Others have spaces which can be used for activities and events. We plan to open up stations for wider use wherever it is feasible to do so.
At smaller stations, we will provide grants which local start-up businesses can bid for to turn disused or little used stations buildings into offices and shops. To help them succeed, we will charge low rents and provide business advice and mentoring. The grants will also be available to community groups who may wish to turn station buildings into venues for activities such as education or art workshops.
In addition, we will provide temporary 'pop-up' mobile food and drink units at smaller stations to encourage local entrepreneurs to test their products and assess whether there is demand for them. At stations with large concourses and forecourts, we i aim to make the land available for markets and hold special customer events as well, such as music festivals and fairs, where it is practical to do so. We will also provide opportunities for local food retailers to set up stalls at stations during sports events and festivals such as rugby internationals, race meetings and the Edinburgh Festival.
As well as creating new jobs and providing new community facilities, there will be real benefits for customers. Smaller unstaffed stations will be more secure due to businesses working on the premises, there will be new catering services at some stations and there will be a more lively atmosphere at stations during special events.