Major improvements are being planned for Dumbarton's dilapidated Central Station in a bid to drive up passenger numbers and boost the town's image and economy.

A team of leading conservation architects has been commissioned to draw up plans for the historic station, one of only 12 ‘A’-Listed stations in Scotland, which has badly deteriorated over years, giving a bad impression to locals and visitors.

It is hoped the project, being led by Dumbarton Stations Improvement Trust (DSIT), will inject new pride into the station and make it an important part of the town centre conservation area.

The project – supported by both Network Rail and ScotRail/Abellio - is being funded by West Dunbartonshire Council following a successful application to the town centre common good fund, and with the support of staff in the regeneration section.

DSIT has commissioned one of Scotland’s most experienced conservation architects, Lesley Kerr, and her team of five specialist consultants, to produce the conservation management plan.

The trust said: "Many locals may not remember the former entrance to the station, under the Church Street bridge, or the wide, tiled staircases which led to the platforms, where they and their surrounding railings are now hidden behind ugly grey steel boxes.

"Almost the entire ground floor area was abandoned in 1992, when the ticket office was transferred to the eastbound platform, leaving both interiors and exteriors to deteriorate intolerably.

"With a little imagination, it is possible to conjure beyond the bricked and cemented Gothic window-openings what lay behind over a century ago - three restaurants serving the needs of workmen, families and wedding parties."

The trust says severe water ingress is leading to damage to the steel structure of the bridge and the stonework of the entire building.

And it asks: "Could a re-opening of the original entrance, with lifts, stairs and a bigger ticket office serving all platforms equally, be possible?

"Access to the platforms is solely by long, steep ramps which are a severe difficulty for many people, not least the elderly and disabled.

"Having a single ticket office serving three platforms, two of which are detached, is far from satisfactory."

The public will be able to see some of the options – and give reactions and comments - at public consultation events being held for two weeks, starting on January 14, at Dumbarton Library.

Councillor Iain McLaren, convener of infrastructure, regeneration and economic development, welcomed moves to protect the site’s rich heritage.

He said: "If we see improvements to the station, it will help drive up passenger numbers, which will have a positive economic impact on Dumbarton. I would encourage everybody to make time to go along to the consultation and ensure they have their say on the different options presented.”