NETWORK Rail has insisted it will press ahead with plans to ban all traffic from Waverley Station on Monday, amid claims restrictions are being rushed through and have been poorly thought-out.
Bosses have been warned the move could cause congestion outside the station, put pedestrians’ lives at risk and make life a nightmare for disabled travellers.
Council chiefs, disabled charities and cabbies have all called for the move to be postponed at least until the end of July when the Market Street taxi rank is due to be finished.
However, Network Rail said it was sticking to its plans, insisting the car ban is vital for the safety of passengers and pedestrians.
David Griffiths, chief executive of Edinburgh-based disabled charity Ecas, has raised concerns with David Dickinson, Network Rail route managing director for Scotland.
Mr Griffiths said: “They are steam-rolling this through at a week’s notice. I think it is being rushed through without consultation and without considering the consequences. To push this through before they have sorted out a taxi rank is most unfortunate.”
Last week, church minister Rev Tom Sinclair was killed when he was knocked over by a reversing car, with witnesses suggesting the driver had tried to enter the station only to find his way blocked by Network Rail security barriers.
Reacting to mounting criticism over the vehicle ban, Network Rail has said it is committed to disabled access “but not to providing a general taxi rank within Waverley”.
An authority spokesman said: “Access to the station is primarily a matter for Network Rail and the removal of vehicles will further improve passenger and pedestrian safety at Waverley.
“The final decision to close the station to private vehicles was only taken on Friday and was communicated to passengers and other stakeholders as soon as possible on Monday.”
The station has lifts and step-free access to and from its main exits, with free short-term parking for up to 30 minutes is also available in the nearby New Street car park.
Mr Griffiths said some passengers with severe mobility problems arriving at distant platforms needed longer.
Councillor Norman Work, carers champion and also a taxi driver, said the move would create a “bad image” for visitors. He said: “Network Rail should think again about the inconvenience to passengers with luggage, especially the disabled and elderly as well as those with children in buggies.”
Cllr Adam McVey, SNP spokesman for transport, has also written to Mr Dickinson, raising “strong concerns” over the impact on traffic, mobility and safety.