THE bid to ban taxis and private cars from Waverley Station is in fresh chaos after the city council said it would refuse to pay the £1 million cost of the move.
Station owner Network Rail insists the ban is necessary for security, with Waverley the only major station in the UK which still allows access by car.
The situation is in stark contrast to Edinburgh Airport, where cars are diverted away from the main building, and rail bosses now want to bring the station in line with modern anti-terrorist measures.
However, the city council opposes the closure and says the terror threat has to be weighed against the huge implications for passengers, particularly those with disabilities.
The stand-off may ultimately lead to Network Rail over-ruling the council and pressing ahead with the ban – but if that happens, the council insists it will not be picking up the bill.
City transport leader Lesley Hinds said: “My argument is you need to have security but there has to be a balance with accessibility and that balance is becoming too heavily weighed towards security.
“Network Rail say there will be sufficient provision with the new Waverley Steps and the new Market Street entrance, which we cannot agree with.
“We do not accept their proposals and we have serious concerns about access for people with disabilities, along with concerns that the proposals will lead to huge queues at exits.”
Network Rail had intended to bring in the ban next month but agreed to a delay after the city council raised serious concerns about the move. If the council fails to convince the firm to freeze the plans it instead wants it to fund the necessary works, which it has costed at £995,000, according to a report to the transport and environment committee.
The Waverley Bridge area would require around £150,000 to adapt it to cope with more vehicles and establish a nine-bay evening taxi rank.Possible drop-off plans for the ramp leading to the station have also been suggested. Market Street would also require £95,000 of resurfacing and the installation of a 16-bay taxi rank. A further £750,000 would be needed to adjust the surrounding streets and pavements, including to moving sections of pavement for new parking bays.
Another proposal includes establishing a drop-off point at the station’s New Street car park. Cllr Hinds, who said she has the support of city MP and MSPs, said: “The council is not prepared to meet the costs of these works, which may well come out of the roads and pavements budget. We expect Network Rail and the Department for Transport to contribute.”
The report to next week’s transport and environment committee includes a motion which says the car ban will have a “serious detrimental impact”.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We continue to work with the council to develop plans for an external taxi rank. The project will consider contributing to the cost of works directly related to the removal of vehicles from Waverley.”
Services face chop
AIRPORT and tour bus numbers may have to be cut due to increased use of Waverley Bridge.
Six tour buses would be reduced to four, and Airlink buses from three to two should Network Rail ban vehicles from Waverley Station.
Lothian Buses is likely to raise concerns at the move with Network Rail. The services are likely to be made up by relocating them nearby, although no plans have been drawn up yet.
The number of City Car Club vehicles in the area would remain the same.