Waverley barriers: Council call to axe £1m system

The malfunctioning barriers stand open at Waverley. Picture: Jane Barlow

The malfunctioning barriers stand open at Waverley. Picture: Jane Barlow

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WAVERLEY Station bosses have been handed an ultimatum by city council chiefs to “sort out” their controversial £1 million anti-terror barriers or face having them scrapped altogether.

The demand comes as tens of thousands of rugby fans descend on the city for tomorrow’s Six Nations Calcutta Cup clash between Scotland and England, with fears the barriers – which have so far led to huge taxi rank tailbacks – will cause chaos.

This week, the system malfunctioned and was left completely open – causing critics to question the need for the barriers in the first place.

Council officials will monitor the station this weekend and have vowed to “take appropriate action” if serious safety concerns for motorists or pedestrians develop.

Emergency taxi ranks are also being introduced outside the station this weekend to try to cope with demand.

A senior council source told the Evening News that they had become increasingly fed-up with the continual problems thrown up by the newly opened security system saying: “They either sort it out or we’ll scrap the system.”

The new security measures have seen the number of taxis allowed into Waverley Station slashed to just 100, with drivers forced to negotiate the two barriers, one-by-one, causing traffic chaos. Network Rail, which insists the system is fit for purpose, has suggested that “the majority” of passengers should be able trek up to Waverley Bridge for a cab.

City transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds agreed there had been problems.

She said: “It’s no secret that there have unfortunately been quite a few issues with access to the station in recent weeks since the new security barriers were made operational.

“We know that Six Nations rugby weekends are particularly busy times, which is why we have been pleased to work with Network Rail to make sure we offer the best possible welcome at Waverley.”

She added: “That said, our officers will obviously be keeping a close eye on things throughout the weekend and will take appropriate action if it turns out that these measures aren’t sufficient.”

Two new temporary taxi ranks have been introduced: a 12-car rank will be opened in Market Street while an eight-space rank will be created at the Calton Road entrance. Signs will inform fans and drivers of the new ranks and drop-off points will also be erected.

Central Taxis boss Tony Kenmuir said he had “no doubt” that council chiefs would be forced to act on their warning. He said: “The only way to do it is to open the barriers and let everyone in. It will be a shambles there on Saturday otherwise.

“The crux of this was a security issue but what kind of security system do you turn off when the biggest crowds appear? This highlights the fundamental flaw in the whole system.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We will have additional staff to assist passengers. The taxi rank within the station will remain open throughout the weekend, with marshals on site to help manage the queue and direct passengers without heavy luggage to the ranks.”