AUTOMATIC barriers introduced at Waverley Station on Monday as an anti-terrorism measure are creating a “potential danger to pedestrians”, the city’s transport leader said today.
The warning came as taxis were forced to queue all the way up Waverley Bridge as the new barriers created delays for them getting into the station and subsequent traffic disruption. Network Rail drafted in two stewards to manually operate the new barriers as the automatic 60-second wait between the barriers closing and reopening caused major tailbacks.
Taxi drivers described the scene as “a shambles” and Councillor Lesley Hinds raised fears that the resulting traffic disruption could put pedestrians at risk. Only taxis with special permits are allowed into the station under the new arrangements with twin barriers at the top of the north ramp off Waverley Bridge supposed to automatically recognise the vehicles allowed in.
But there was further confusion last night when the stewards left at 5pm and the barriers were left open for anyone to drive through.
One cabbie, who asked not to be named, said: “Network Rail seem to be of the opinion that terrorists only work a 9-5. You couldn’t make it up.
“There are members of the public without any security clearance driving in, picking up and dropping off.”
When the plans were first announced as part of UK Home Office terror policy last year, the city council said it was “crucial” to instal a new pedestrian crossing at the junction of Market Street and Waverley Bridge, but that work has never been carried out.
Today, Cllr Hinds said: “It’s clear that the changes are causing some problems for station users.
“We fear that unless these logistical aspects are properly managed, there is a potential danger to pedestrians and vehicles as well as a heightened risk of congestion in the streets around the station.
“Our officers are actively seeking to meet with Network Rail as soon as possible to see how we can help them to resolve the issues.”
Central Taxis boss Tony Kenmuir said: “It’s a good old-fashioned shambles. The gates take too long to let each taxi through so they decided to get these guys down checking the security clearance of each driver, which sped it up a bit.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said the fully automated barriers would be up and running again today and that plans to remove vehicles from the station had been in the public domain for “many years”.
He said: “The barriers are being manned during peak hours only to control access during the busiest time. They are not being manned in the evening. The system will be operating on a fully automated basis from today.”