A Highland MSP has voiced concerns over how passengers arriving at the new Inverness Airport railway station will get to the terminal building.
Network Rail submitted plans to the local authority last month for a double-platform station at Dalcross to provide better connectivity.
The long-awaited proposals will cater for six carriage trains and include a 64-space car park with associated infrastructure including a footbridge and 16-person lifts on each platform.
MSP Edward Mountain says further clarity is needed to establish the scope for a shuttle bus service to be imposed to help the facility meet its full potential.
“This project will not be cheap and it is likely it could cost in excess of £15m,” he said.
“For that price it is vital that the new station fully meets the needs of Highlanders from day one.
“We still don’t know if there will be a shuttle bus in operation between the station and the airport. It’s time we heard far more from Transport Scotland, the Highland Council and Hitrans on this issue.
“Whilst I welcome the active travel infrastructure being put in place at the station, we cannot expect all passengers to walk or cycle to the airport, especially when it is raining.”
His appeal follows a meeting with Network Rail officials to discuss the proposals which are in line for completion by December 2022.
The conservative MSP added: “We need to make travelling between the station and airport as easy as possible. The last thing Highlanders and tourists will want is a replica of the problems experienced at Dyce Railway Station.
“The new station must be linked up to the airport with regular services otherwise it will not meet its full potential.”
Transport chiefs say the new facility will result in a reduction in road travel to the airport, promoting greener travel choices whilst increasing capacity on the Inverness to Aberdeen line.
Allan Henderson, Highland Councillor and chairman of Hitrans said they would welcome the implementation of a shuttle bus service in providing “seamless transport”
He said: “As we go forward its all about encouraging people to leave cars alone. Rather than having to have huge areas of black tar at a railway station, it’s so much better if you can pick up and connect and move people as a single unit.
“Mass travel is the way to go, not currently but when things hopefully get back to normal that’s of course we would like to have.
“There is no-one doubting for one moment that it would have been far better to be able to get the railway station to go into the airport however unfortunately that just wasn’t technically possible.
“Anything that any MP or MSP does to try and forward the case for a complete link up, for seamless transport between the railway station and the airport is all to the good.”
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government remains committed to funding the construction of Dalcross Station and a car park, indeed Network Rail’s recent submission of a planning application is evidence of progress.
“As is normal, the responsibility to ensure wider local and regional benefits are maximised lies with the Regional Transport Partnership; this would include the provision of a transport link between the new station and the airport terminal. Transport Scotland, of course, will continue to work with its project partners in their realisation of an appropriate transfer link between the station and the airport terminal.”