CAMPAIGNERS hope a meeting with Transport Minister Humza Yousaf at Waverley station has brought taxi access for disabled people a step closer.
The taxi rank at Waverley was removed and vehicles banned from the station in 2014. And older and disabled people say Waverley has gone from being one of the easiest stations in the country to access to one of the most difficult.
But after the meeting with Mr Yousaf and officials from ScotRail and Network Rail, campaigner Hilary Davies, of the Edinburgh Access Panel, who is registered blind, said she was “very encouraged”.
She said: “It seemed to me we were being listened to. For me the big push is to get taxis for disabled people with blue badges to be allowed to come into the station to drop-off and pick up by arrangement. If we can achieve that I will be very happy.”
Lothian Conservative MSP Miles Briggs, who has backed the campaigners, said he hoped the north ramp from Waverley Bridge could be used by taxis taking disabled travellers to and from the station.
He said: “This would mean the station moving goods delivery vehicles elsewhere from the north ramp where they currently come in, perhaps through Calton Road, and the setting up of extra goods lifts in the station. Network Rail pledged to continue to look at this matter.”
Mr Briggs also pressed for the proposed new taxi rank in the New Street car park to become a drop-off point as well as a pick-up area.
“The Minister has asked Network Rail to look at this and share information on why it believes there is not enough space for both pick-up and drop-off when disabled parking bays are being proposed there.”
Edinburgh Eastern SNP MSP Ash Denham, who also attended the meeting, said it had been “very productive”. She said: “It is so important to learn about the accessibility issues that are a real challenge for people at Waverley and take steps to make their journeys easier and safer. Improved access to taxi ranks is of particular concern.”
Mr Yousaf said: “I was encouraged by work already undertaken over recent years that has driven a number of access improvements at Waverley station. In addition, I asked Transport Scotland to work with the ScotRail Alliance to ensure further improvements are made. A taxi rank will be created within the New Street car park later this year that is expected to help improve access but I am keen to see the Passenger Assist service provided by train companies improve to meet the needs of all passengers, I also encouraged Network Rail to continue discussions with the Access Panel to look at future options to make Waverley as accessible as possible.”
A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said: “The meeting was a positive opportunity to discuss our plans to further improve access to Waverley and explain the challenges involved in such a busy station. We will provide the Minister with further details of the plans we are putting in place and the options we have reviewed as part of that process. While longer-term changes at the station may create more options, in the short-term, there is no scope to provide additional access to the station via the north ramp.”