THE battle between Edinburgh City Council and Network Rail could be set for the courts after city chiefs said they would take legal advice over a plan to ban all traffic from Waverley Station.
It is understood that council leader Andrew Burns has written to Network Rail chief executive David Higgins to express his displeasure at the company’s snap decision to close the station to vehicles – scrapping its recently-installed £1 million security barriers.
City chiefs have been left stunned by the move, after transport convener Lesley Hinds attended a “very amicable” meeting with Network Rail executives last week at which “no mention” was made of the plan.
Instead, the first she knew of the controversial decision was when the rail company issued a press release yesterday lunchtime.
She said: “This is unacceptable and deeply irresponsible. You would have thought that they would have at least had the decency to pick up the phone and tell us.
“You cannot just do this without holding any discussions. They speak about increasing safety within the station, but what about passenger safety outside?”
She added: “They leave us no choice but to explore options to challenge them legally.”
The long-running saga surrounding the Waverley security system began back in January when Network Rail installed the barriers without
any prior notification to the council, which is soon to begin constructing a pedestrian crossing and other safety measures nearby.
Just last week the death of church minister Rev Tom Sinclair, 76, was linked to the controversial barriers. He was knocked down by a reversing silver Vauxhall Astra, and witnesses suggested the driver had tried to enter the station only to find his way blocked.
Now the station will become a vehicle-free zone from Monday.
All taxis will be barred, with passengers directed to external ranks. Cabbies who have paid £1800 for a permit will have their money refunded.
David Dickson, Network Rail route managing director for Scotland, said: “Waverley Station is the last Network Rail managed station to allow vehicles access to the concourse. The reason that is the case is because we recognise that Waverley is situated in a location which makes access challenging.
“Waverley now has three entrances to the station which are fully accessible. Lifts permit step-free access to and from Princes Street, Market Street and Calton Road.
“We understand that removing taxis and private vehicles from the station does away with a convenience that people have become used to, however it is our job to balance convenience with the safety and best interests of all of our station users.”