£1.7m link to beat Haymarket congestion

Standard Life to let all office space in square
Standard Life to let all office space in square
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A NEW entrance linking Haymarket station and a crowded West End thoroughfare will be built under £1.7 million plans aimed at easing growing congestion.

Proposals have been hatched for a route connecting the recently revamped station and Dalry Road, which would be funded from a £32m Transport Scotland cash pot.

Initial designs show how the passage would run from Dalry Road, behind an adjacent Starbucks branch and into Haymarket.

It is hoped the link will enhance access to the transport hub as annual passenger numbers surge from four million to between eight and nine million by the mid-2030s.

However, city leaders face forking out £200,000 to draw up their blueprint and have called on station operator Network Rail to provide funds.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport leader, said: “We were thinking that [Network Rail] could give us some money out of that overall pot to work up our proposals.

“We’ll be writing to Transport Scotland to express our concern and say that if we want to take this forward, then we would like the opportunity to get some development funding.

“Why can’t they give us funding to take this to the next stage?

“There were suggestions when the plans [for the Haymarket redevelopment] were released that a link to Dalry Road should have been part of the proposals. A link would mean an extra enhancement for the station.”

Plans for the new route come as work begins on a £200m flagship development at the bottom of Morrison Street, which will offer office, leisure and retail space, as well as an aparthotel and secure underground car park.

Current figures show nearly 10,000 peak-time passengers who emerge from Haymarket head towards the city centre, with the vast majority – 80 per cent – travelling via Morrison Street.

And it is thought this could rise considerably once the Haymarket development is completed.

Campaigners said any investment in railway capacity was welcome, but added that they would reserve judgement on the proposals until detailed plans are released. Tom Thorburn, chairman of the Rail Action Group, East of Scotland, said: “I’m always in favour of investment in railways – if this is going to ease passenger congestion and queues at peak times then, yes, I would be in favour.

“I have come off trains there during peak times and, yes, I have witnessed queuing.”

Network Rail chiefs stressed the Scottish Stations Fund had been created to finance delivery of infrastructure projects rather than development or planning work.

A spokesman said: “The rail industry has had discussions with the council regarding its proposals to create a new access to Haymarket station from Dalry Road.

“The proposals are still at an early stage of development and no decision on a new access has been made.

“Its suitability for funding through the Scottish Stations Fund has also still to be determined.”