Delay for station improvements

LOCAL travellers may have to wait until November before access problems at Montrose Station are finally solved.

Local councillor David May said that work had been due to start in the spring but has now been delayed by Network Rail until the autumn due to concerns the bridge replacement could affect train drivers’ sightlines.

He said: “I’ve been involved with this over the last few years and thought it was taking place in the course of the next two or three months, but I’ve now been told it will be November and it won’t be completed for a few months.

“Apparently the bridge may have impacted on train drivers sighting a signal.”

The project to replace the old cast iron bridge over the tracks has been continuing for several years and designs for the scheme were being drawn up this time last year. The new footbridge will include lifts on either side, which will finally mean disabled travellers will no longer be manhandled across a boarded walkway which was originally designed for luggage barrows.

Previously disabled travellers from the south who wanted to disembark at Montrose have had three main options - to ask for assistance from railway staff to be carted across the open line, to keep going until Stonehaven and then travel back the way they had come or get off in Arbroath and complete the journey by taxi.

The situation has often been condemned as unsatisfactory and demeaning and has also presented problems for the elderly, mothers with young children and anyone with heavy luggage.

He added: “It’s a great pity that it has been delayed at all and I still see a lot of elderly, disabled and mothers with young children struggling across the bridge.”

SNP north east MSP Nigel Don recently raised the issue with First Scotrail’s managing director Steve Montgomery after carrying out a survey of residents in the Montrose and Mearns areas which focused on public transport.

One of the issues most commonly brought up in the Montrose area was the lack of disabled access at the station and Mr Don welcomed the company’s assurance that work would begin this year.

He said: “I am pleased that there is light at the end of the tunnel for residents in Montrose. I am aware that there has been a campaign on this issue for some time as the alternative means of travel are very inconvenient for my constituents.

“This will allow less mobile residents much easier access to public transport, which can only be a good thing.

At the time of going to press no-one from Network Rail, which has responsibility for the rail network’s infrastructure, was available for comment.