WORK has finally begun on making Stirling train station wheelchair accessible more than 10 years since campaigns for change began.

The lack of accessibility at the station’s Platform 9 has long been an issue for Clackmannanshire residents as a large percentage of Alloa to Stirling trains go through that platform.

Groups in Alloa, such as the community council and disabled rights activists, have campaigned for a decade to have the platform revamped to allow those in wheelchairs, or parents with prams, the chance to move freely around the station.

Last year, the Alloa Advertiser backed the campaign and highlighted the impact of the issue travelling from the Wee County into the city.

A breakthrough was then made as Network Rail confirmed that planning permission had been lodged with Stirling Council to improve the facilities at the station as they carried out electrification works on the tracks.

Success finally came last week when the council approved the planning application, with work having already started in order to prepare the station for the temporary upheaval.

Network Rail have also confirmed that the existing footbridge will be closed from mid-August while engineers prepare the structure for removal and a temporary footbridge will be in use for passengers from this time.

The lattice footbridge will be removed for refurbishment and then reinstalled higher above the rails to enable the line underneath to be electrified. It will also be converted into a fully accessible structure with the installation of a new lift on platform nine.

Mhairi Mackenzie, Network Rail’s senior sponsor for the project, said: “Once complete, the Stirling-Dunblane-Alloa electrification project will greatly enhance journeys allowing us to run faster, longer, greener trains while increasing the number of seats available for customers.”

On learning the news, Alexander Stewart MSP said: “I was delighted to learn that after the whole disabled access issue at Platform 9 had been kicked into the long grass for the past 10 years.

“For the people of Stirling and Clackmannanshire with disabilities and mobility issues, as well as parents and carers with young children, buggies and prams; this will be most welcome and a relief after waiting for so long.”

Keith Brown MSP added: “The accessibility of Platform 9 at Stirling Station has been a long running issue which I have worked with Network Rail and other partners to address.

“I’m delighted – as I am sure many of my constituents will be – that planning approval has now been granted and work can start to implement the improvements which will address the accessibility issues and ensure appropriate access for all rail users going forward.”

Cameron Little from Alloa’s Community Council told the Advertiser it was a long overdue victory.

He said: “I’m glad to see we have reached an important milestone in the saga of Platform 9.

“After 10 years of excuses, false promises and in some cases misinformation, we are now going to have a solution to a problem that has existed for far too long.”