Waverley escalators only work ‘half the time’

Commuters have reported the likelihood of all six escalators working at the same time to be very low. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Commuters have reported the likelihood of all six escalators working at the same time to be very low. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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Commuters have slammed Waverley bosses over escalators installed as part of a £7 million redevelopment that only work “50 per cent” of the time.

Now anger over the performance of the escalators at Waverley Steps has led to the contractor in charge of maintenance being replaced, with the station operator promising “an improvement in reliability in the near future”.

Travellers with heavy bags hoped the escalators would end the 72-step ordeal to from the station to Princes Street, but they have been dogged by breakdowns ever since they began operating.

Passengers say they are as likely to find at least one of the six broken or cordoned off for repairs as they are to find them all working.

Lawrence Marshall, chairman of the Capital Rail Action Group and a daily commuter through Waverley, said the escalators are “too frequently” broken down when he passes through the station.

“It’s unfortunate, because I think they’ve done a good job with Waverley Steps,” said Mr Marshall. “It is a bit of a shame that having made such a nice job of it, the escalators seem to be fairly erratic. It is quite rare for all six to be working.

“It would be nice for them to sort it out. It seems to happen far more often than in a department store.”

His disappointment was echoed by other Edinburgh commuters. Kyle Turvie, 21, who commutes to Edinburgh from Kirkcaldy, said: “Pretty frequently, at least one of the escalators isn’t working. It’s quite inconvenient.”

Rebecca Burnett, 32, who lives in Barnton, said: “I come through here twice a day, three to four times a week, and I’d say at least 50 to 75 per cent of the time, one of them is not working.

“When I’ve got bags and laptops, it can be a bit frustrating. Obviously there’s the stairs, but escalators would make things easier.”

And Kyle McQuatt, 26, from Bonnyrigg, said: “I work across from the station, and the one at the bottom is never working.”

The six escalators were unveiled in January 2012 as part of a wider £130m refurbishment of the station.

The renewal saw a roof installed over Waverley Steps, which are used by more than 14,000 people each day, or 40 per cent of travellers through Waverley.

The only other step-free direct access between the station and Princes Street are two 16-person lifts, which take travellers up to the roof of the Princes Mall. The lifts had to be re-sited further away from the steps and Princes Street following an objection to the original plans by the neighbouring Balmoral Hotel.

A spokesman for Network Rail, which runs Waverley Station, said: “The Waverley Steps escalators opened in January 2012 as part of a £130m investment at the station which has renewed the roof and created step-free access at the Market Street, Calton Road and Waverley Steps entrances.

“The performance of the escalators at the Waverley Steps is something we are seeking to address and we have recently appointed a new company to maintain them. We expect to see an improvement in reliability in the near future.”