SLOW progress on making Scotland’s train stations step-free means disabled passengers will have to wait decades for an accessible rail network, a charity says.
Disability charity Leonard Cheshire says 46% of Scotland’s train stations are inaccessible for disabled people.
It adds that Britain’s railway network will not be fully accessible until 2070 unless progress increases.
In Scotland, only three stations – Breich, Dalwhinnie and Robroyston – have been upgraded over the past year to allow step-free access, according to the charity’s research.
Stuart Robertson, director of Leonard Cheshire in Scotland, said: “These findings reinforce the need for investment to ensure our rail network fully meets the needs of disabled people.
“It is a simple issue of equality that is even more relevant as we remain in an economic crisis for the foreseeable future.
“We have revealed a clear link between accessible rail and job opportunities for disabled people that will boost the economy and improve lives.”
The charity says a fully accessible rail network would be “transformative” for disabled peoples’ employment prospects and help tens of thousands find work.
They say ensuring step-free accessibility to all stations must be prioritised as part of the response to the coronavirus crisis.
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said the Scottish Government was committed to improving access to stations beyond the UK-wide programme.
The spokesperson said: “Rail accessibility is reserved to the UK Government and, while we work closely with the Department for Transport to agree priorities, the final decision rests with them.
“That is why we continue to push for full devolution of rail powers to enable us to better deliver for Scotland’s rail users.
“Our vision is that all disabled people can travel with the same freedom, choice, dignity and opportunity as other citizens.
“Over the course of this rail funding period (2019-2024) we’ll deliver step-free access at Anniesland, Croy, Dumfries, Johnstone, Port Glasgow and Uddingston.”
They went on: “Where there is no disabled access at a particular station, passengers can make arrangements with ScotRail for taxi transportation to/from the nearest manned station.”