Waverley Bridge death linked to station barriers

Rev Tom Sinclair who was killed in a traffic accident in the centre of Edinburgh. Pic: submitted
Rev Tom Sinclair who was killed in a traffic accident in the centre of Edinburgh. Pic: submitted
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The death of a church minister killed in a smash on Waverley Bridge has been linked to the controversial train station security barriers.

The 76-year-old was today identified as the Rev Tom Sinclair, 76, a commissioner attending the General Assembly this week.

Police closed Waverley Bridge to all traffic and pedestrians after the accident. Pic: Kaye Nicholson

Police closed Waverley Bridge to all traffic and pedestrians after the accident. Pic: Kaye Nicholson

He was knocked down by a reversing silver Vauxhall Astra in front of commuters and tourists shortly after 5pm yesterday.

The driver had tried to drive into the station only to find his way blocked by Network Rail’s newly-installed £1 million barriers.

City transport convener Lesley Hinds has previously voiced concerns over the barriers causing confusion for drivers and a lack of signs warning motorists that they are no longer allowed into the station.

Emergency medical staff raced to the scene following the incident, which happened when the Assembly finished for the day just after 5pm.

Emergency services surround the scene of the accident on Waverley Bridge. Pic:  Danny Roe

Emergency services surround the scene of the accident on Waverley Bridge. Pic: Danny Roe

The accident happened outside the main vehicle entrance to the station opposite the pick-up point for the Airlink bus, and the scene was quickly surrounded by emergency vehicles.

One eyewitness, who asked not to be named, said: “The car drove on to the ramp leading into the station. After realising they’re not allowed down there they then seem to have panicked and reversed out, colliding with the pedestrian. The car rolled over the man before hitting an Airlink coach parked opposite the station entrance.”

The vehicle remained positioned across both sides of the carriageway until just after 8pm as accident investigators took careful measurements of the scene.

Mr Sinclair, originally from Glasgow, was Clerk to the Presbytery of Lewis for over 30 years.

He is survived by his wife Pam and a son Jonathan, 43, who lives in Edinburgh.

The Moderator, the Rt Rev John Chalmers remembered Tom and his family in prayers at the start of the Assembly today, and assured the family that the prayers of the whole Church would continue to be with them.

He said: “The news of Tom’s death in such tragic circumstances came as a terrible shock to the General Assembly.

“Tom Sinclair loved the Church of Scotland and loved General Assembly, we mourn his loss and we commend his wife and family to the care of the community of faith and to the grace God.

“Tom’s death is a painful tragedy for his wife and family and will come as real blow to the Presbytery of Lewis which he was still serving as Presbytery Clerk.”

Council leaders have labelled the barriers a “potential danger to pedestrians” due to the lack of safety measures in place at the site.

Network Rail first installed the barriers in January without any prior notification to the city council, which is soon to begin constructing a pedestrian crossing nearby.

Following installation of the barriers, taxis have been forced to queue up Waverley Bridge due to lengthy delays getting into the station – a situation council bosses labelled “just not acceptable in terms of pedestrian safety”.

In recent weeks, the barriers have been turned both on and off due to various mechanical faults with the security system.

Cllr Hinds said: “I’m very sad to hear of this fatality and we must wait for the police report before pre-judging anything.

“However, I have voiced concerns in the past about the safety of pedestrians in this area. The barriers are working one day and are down the next, this creates confusion for drivers who might drive down one day but be refused the next.”

Police officers closed the road between Market Street and Princes Street to all traffic and pedestrians following the fatal accident.

Passer-by Cat McIntosh, 21, from Dunbar, said: “I’m in shock. We were just going down to the station when we saw this. It’s horrible.”

Rev Sinclair entered the ministry young after studies at Trinity College Glasgow. He completed his probation in Aberdeen Holburn Central with the legendary Dr Knox.

His first parish was Scourie in Sutherland. He later moved to Martin’s Memorial, Stornoway in the seventies where he served for almost 30 years.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “This is a matter for the police at this stage and we will liaise with them during their investigation.”

Road policing sergeant Neil Inglis said: “This was a tragic incident where a man has sadly lost his life and I am appealing for any witnesses who were on Waverley Bridge around 5pm last night to contact Police Scotland on 101 or through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

david.oleary@edinburghnews.com