Rail bosses will be taken to task at the Scottish Parliament today over a lack of support for new roads and pavements to ease congestion around the Capital’s bustling train stations.
City transport leader Lesley Hinds is set to tell MSPs that Network Rail and ScotRail should pay their fair share of costs to improve infrastructure around the busy transport hubs.
The controversy over funding for improvements around stations stems from a decision last year to ban taxis from inside Waverley, requiring £1 million of improvements to Market Street to create room for a new cab rank and drop-off zones.
Now a £1.7m walkway connecting Dalry Road to Haymarket station has been proposed, but will only go ahead if the council stumps up £200,000 for preparatory work to build a business case.
Councillor Hinds said it was disappointing that taxpayers were expected to foot the bill.
She said: “Our concern is that millions of pounds has been spent on upgrading the stations internally, but there seems to be this red line that goes around the stations that means there is no consideration of what happens in the surrounding area.
“Because the stations have permitted development status, they don’t need planning permission – the work can just go ahead. Decisions were taken, particularly to take the taxis out of Waverley.
“At the time, there was some discussion about resources being provided by the Westminster government to help improve security, but that never came to anything.
“It’s about resources and money, but it’s also about coordination.”
However, the Conservative transport spokesman at Holyrood, Alex Johnstone MSP, was unsympathetic towards the council’s plea, saying road layouts and improvements should have been considered ahead of planned redevelopment of the city’s stations.
Mr Johnstone, who sits on the infrastructure and capital investment committee, said: “It’s all very well for the council to moan about the situation now, but the point is that traffic management should have been on their radar long before the project to upgrade Waverley and Haymarket stations got off the ground.”
A spokesman for the ScotRail Alliance, which represents both Network Rail and train operator ScotRail, said: “The railway has invested millions in improving access at Waverley and we continue to work closely with the council to improve on-street taxi provision.
“The rail industry has had discussions with the council regarding its proposals to create a new access to Haymarket station from Dalry Road.
“The proposals are still at an early stage of development and their suitability for funding through the Scottish Stations Fund has still to be determined.”