The £25 million revamp of Haymarket Station is set to be officially unveiled to the travelling public as the finishing touches are being put to the new concourse.
Passengers will be met with a giant departures board on the same scale as the one in Waverley as they are allowed access from Haymarket Terrace from 5.30am tomorrow.
A series of escalators, bridges and stairs connect the new-look steel and glass structure to existing platforms.
The state-of-the-art facility has tripled the concourse floor space to 8700 square metres, having been designed to cater for a predicted 125 per cent increase in passenger numbers over the next 15 years.
Five new “bespoke” screens designed to run digital adverts will be spread around the new station and complement the new electronic arrival, departures and information terminals.
The screens are the first of their kind used on the rail network in Scotland and will be able to switch from ads to real-time information for things such as severe weather at the flick of a switch.
A Marks and Spencer convenience store is the main retail outlet on the concourse’s ground floor and is set to open by March next year, while the retail giant will also run a smaller outlet on the new station’s mezzanine. All important for morning commuters, new coffee shops have also been built inside the station.
Network Rail Haymarket project manager Tom McPake happily declared “everything has gone to plan”.
He said: “We’re very happy that we’ll be open for business on Thursday morning.
“Passengers will come off Haymarket Terrace to a big open area with ticket machines and gate lines. To the right of the open space is a ticket shop that replicates the travel centre in Edinburgh. They’ll be able to get in there and purchase their tickets, or purchase them from bespoke ticket machines as well.
“Once they get through the gate line, that takes them into the large overbridge area. That’s fitted out with advertising boards, lifts and escalators.
“The passenger experience will be a very open environment, very airy, very light, very unconstrained and ten times the size of what we’ve got now. It’s very much a better passenger experience.”
The main building features a high-grade transparent plastic roof similar to Waverley while an extra set of stairs and “rugby tunnel” has been built specifically for match days at Murrayfield Stadium.
The alternative entrance is designed to avoid lengthy queues out of the front of the station.
Mr McPake added: “It helps the pedestrian flow and allows us to accommodate big crowds through the station without disrupting the normal service.
“Getting people in and out of the station will be a lot easier. It will cure any bottlenecks.”
A second entrance to the new concourse will eventually be provided through the historic station facade, but will not open until April.
Network Rail also still has to remove the old pedestrian footbridge and dismantle other parts of the decades-old station building. Haymarket Terrace will be shut outside the station for 36 hours from 10pm on Christmas Eve to clear way for a 500-tonne crane needed to lift out the old footbridge.
The junction will not fully reopen until 10am on Boxing Day. The station will also be closed while the works, which include cutting and loading the old bridge, are carried out. Notices have been distributed to about 7000 surrounding business and residents warning of the noisy construction works and road closures.
Mr McPake said: “The whole project has been delivered to date with absolutely no disruption to services.
“We’ve never shut the line other than the normal night-time shutdowns that we’ve used.”
The closures have been timed to coincide with the shutdown of train services into Edinburgh on Christmas and Boxing Day.
Rail consultants and planning groups have widely welcomed the station upgrade as “long overdue”, with a shortage of pavement space for pedestrians and the lack of access from Distillery Lane to the station’s south being the main complaints about the redesign.
Haymarket is Scotland’s fourth busiest train station. Ten million passengers are forecast to be using the transport hub each year by 2030. The main Haymarket Terrace access to the station will also service the site’s new tram stop, located opposite Rosebery Crescent.
City transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “It’s great to see Haymarket Station becoming a major transport interchange, offering truly integrated and accessible public transport for residents and visitors to Edinburgh.
“A properly integrated, efficient and modern public transport system will pay dividends for Edinburgh’s economic prosperity and for residents’ and visitors’ quality of life.”
Haymarket station by numbers
• 1842: The year a train station first opened at Haymarket.
• May 2012: The start date of Haymarket works.
• £25 million: The total cost of the new station.
• 10 million: Passenger numbers forecast to use Haymarket station by 2030.
• 125 per cent: The forecast increase in passengers using the station over the next ten years.
• 350: The number of crane lifts needed to put the giant steel framework in place.
• 3: The number of new escalators and lifts installed in the station.
• 8700 - The size of the new concourse floor in square metres.
• 300: The size in square metres of the Marks & Spencer store.
• 7000: The number of notices distributed to businesses and residents warning of Christmas road closures.
• 520,000: The man hours worked on the project as of yesterday by about 100 staff from Network Rail and contractor Morgan Sindall.
• 5.30am: The time the new station opens tomorrow.