Planning permission has finally been granted for a two-platform train station at Inverness Airport.
The plans were “reluctantly” granted by the Highland Council, as much debate over the Petty Level crossing which is to be removed as a consequence.
Network Rail argues the Petty level crossing needs to be closed completely for performance and safety reasons linked with the operation of the new station, and the Woodend crossing, closer to the new station, will be kept as it is deemed safer in terms of train speeds.
The council’s South Planning Committee questioned the closure of the Petty crossing – something that also raised concerns among access groups – and the replacement bridge as it will be inaccessible for disabled people.
Cllr Ben Thomson expressed his disappointment towards the proposed replacement bridge, which had limited accessibility features, describing it as being of a “low design standard”
“The addition of a trough to enable those pushing bikes up a set of steps is a very small enhancement to what is really low-quality infrastructure so I am really frustrated that type of bridge is still being built today”
“This should be a graded ramp at a maximum of three per cent and if it costs a lot more to do it then just do it – in the scheme of the overall rail project it is a very small amount of money.”
“I don’t think that is up to the Transport Scotland guidance that was published in July 2020 and I think it is deeply shocking that we are getting infrastructure like that still built.”
Network Rail upgraded plans for a single platform station to a double last year in an effort to reduce’ road travel to the airport promoting greener travel choices whilst increasing capacity on the Inverness to Aberdeen line.
Despite their reservations, the Highland Council planning committee approved the application unanimously. With chairman Jimmy Gray saying that he would “with some reluctance recommend approval” for the application of the platforms.
Network Rail will now begin planning construction of the new two-platform station alongside associated car and cycle parking, a bus drop-off zone and electric vehicle charging points as well as active travel access.