A NEW rail link between Largs and Wemyss Bay is one of the surprise options put forward in a raft of travel improvements designed to boost the local economy.

The wish-list forms part of the strategic review which will shape major investment in Scotland routes over the next two decades.

It features in a Transport Scotland review on the future of roads, trains and cycle paths in Ayrshire over the next 20 years.

Feasibility, affordability and public acceptability will be key to which of the options - including the Largs Yacht Haven railway stop - get the green light.

Discussions have been taking place with the council and local stakeholders and Scottish ministers will approve plans before the chosen options are released for public consultation later this year.

Banks of electric hire vehicles on islands to discourage visitors from taking their car on the ferry and enhancing Cumbrae to Largs ferry route by increasing capacity also feature in the proposals.

Improvement of Hunterston rail provision - including reopening a disused rail line to facilitate access to Hunterston Port - is also mentioned as a way to boost freight.

Direct rail services between Kilmarnock, Ardrossan and Largs and between Largs-Ayr are also mooted.

Independent councillor Ian Murdoch is backing the proposals.

He said: "I would love to see a new rail station at Largs Yacht Haven. Providing a single carriage train between the marina and Largs, and linking up with other train stations at Kilmarnock and Ayr would be a great boost for tourism. It would also be ideal for people wanting to get off at the Pencil who may want to walk into town or visit Kelburn.

"I would prefer to see a bypass rather than a railway link between Largs-Wemyss Bay so we could avoid some of the bottlenecks we see.

"A rail platform at Largs Yacht Haven with council and government support could be key as tourism is our biggest employer."

Conservative councillor Tom Marshall said: “Some of these ideas are worthy of pursuing, particularly the plan to realign the railway line and to prevent the cancellation of the Largs service due to storms and high wind affecting the overhead lines.

"I think there have been surveys on the feasibility of another railway stop at the marina but it would come at huge cost.

"It would be more useful to provide extra car parking spaces at Largs railway station as it is it is a terminus and it would encourage even more people to use the rail service to Glasgow."

SNP Councillor Alan Hill said: "Using the old Irvine line to provide a direct link between Largs and Ayr would be a great idea as at the moment you require two trains to get to the likes of Troon and Ayr.

"I don't think that that old rail link between Stevenston and Irvine has been in use for decades, but it would make a lot of sense if people from Largs could go to Ayr for the day - and you could have an influx of people from Ayr, Troon and Prestwick coming to Largs.

"The Largs-Wemyss Bay railway line seems a bit far fetched - locals would prefer to see another bypass in the area to try and solve the traffic problems."

Labour councillor Alex Gallagher said: "The idea of providing a direct rail link from Largs to Ayr is something that I suggested years ago and I would like to see it. There is a ghost line which has been out of action between Stevenston and Irvine and I would have to see the feasibility and the cost involved in getting that back in action.

"Seeing increased capacity on the ferries is vital as it is something which has been an ongoing problem with the surge of numbers travelling to the islands of Cumbrae and Arran."