An Aberdeenshire train station has been branded one of the least accessible in Scotland.
A major study found significant numbers of residents believed rail travel was impossible for them due to issues at Insch.
One of the most glaring problems is the lack of step-free access to the station’s platform one.
At present, disabled passengers have to travel at least 15km to reach a partly-accessible station, or 30km to Dyce for a fully-accessible station.
Alternatively, under the current arrangements, they can arrange a taxi service with Scotrail to travel to a different station.
Now Nestrans – the transport partnership for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – has assessed Insch as the least accessible station in the north-east, and one of the least accessible in Scotland.
It has written to Transport Scotland for approval to undertake further work to address the longstanding issues.
At its board meeting next week, members of Nestrans will hear that an ‘Initial Appraisal: Case for Change’ report has been submitted to the Scottish Government outlining the problems.
The 128-page report follows a study undertaken last year, in which 118 passengers said they did not consider rail travel to be a “viable option” due to the accessibility issues.
Chairwoman of Nestrans, Councillor Sandra Macdonald, said: “We know from the survey engagement that a wide range of people are affected by the access arrangements at the station.
“Wider improvements to the local network will result in more and better services between Inverness and Aberdeen, which mobility impaired users will not be able to use to their full advantage.
“Not only is there a strong desire within the community for future improvements to be made, the consultation has suggested that the station would be used more frequently if accessibility was improved by the access arrangements at Insch station.”
In November, Bennachie Community Council (BCC) chairwoman Sarah Robinson said the lack of access was “clearly discriminatory”.
She said yesterday she hoped finances wouldn’t hinder process.
She said: “We welcome this report as a first step towards equal access for all at Insch Station.
“The current situation is totally unacceptable and change is long overdue.
“BCC will not be satisfied until a fully accessible solution is implemented and we will not accept cost as an excuse for not providing the best solution.”
A number of options have been generated to improve accessibility at Insch.
Transport Scotland have been asked to approve the Initial Appraisal report, before the options identified are taken forward for more detailed consideration.
The full report is available on the Nestrans website.