Sandra Dick: On track for Haymarket hell

Haymarket Station following a major revamp.
Haymarket Station following a major revamp.
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IT had to end eventually, one of us was always going to have to move on. We’d lasted around 20 years – not bad going really. But last week it was finally time to say our farewells.

After two decades of getting off the train at Waverley Station, the Evening News move to leafy Orchard Brae meant a sudden detour in my commuter plans.

And so Haymarket Station has replaced Waverley on my daily route – as it seems to have done for many of my fellow travellers.

New figures from ScotRail show passenger numbers at Haymarket Station have soared by ten per cent since it underwent a £25 million revamp.

Apparently the number using the station increased from 611,000 between April and July last year, to 667,000 this year.

They, like me, were no doubt impressed by the glitzy new station entrance. Concourse floor space has tripled to 8700 sq m – room aplenty for those annoying people with their wheeled suitcases, the ones who stop at the top of the escalators and fiddle with the handles so they don’t have to carry their case for a single inch, while their fellow travellers pile up behind in a domino effect of falling bodies.

There’s even a Marks & Spencer, which sells Percy Pigs, and a coffee bar where you can pay £1.50 for a small bottle of water. What’s not to like?

It’s all so shiny and lovely at the glossy new concourse that it makes what is going on downstairs at platform level all the more grim.

For down there – on platform four at least – appears to be where the revamp ended and the money ran out.

Down there is a subterranean rush-hour pit of far too many folk crammed into too little space.

Down there is where last Thursday, my life flashed before my eyes as I attempted to weave along a very crowded platform, a Queen Street-bound train inches from my right elbow, the surge of desperate bodies pushing forward at my left.

Too many people on one silly little stretch of squashed up platform for my liking and that’s before the new-look station reaches its target of a 125 per cent rise in passenger numbers over the next 15 years.

At the risk of sounding like your typical moaning commuter, I’d prefer not to plunge to my death in front of the 17.49 Queen Street service. Not when I’ve still got four days’ worth of Flexipasses in my purse.

More passengers flowing through the station may well be great news for ScotRail, but down there on platform four, less would be definitely more.