A second Waverley railway station? Why Yorkshire plan is no threat to Edinburgh's original – Alastair Dalton
Paddington will be forever synonymous with a lost bear from Peru, while King’s Cross for Harry Potter fans can only be the departure point for the Hogwarts Express.
Carnforth will always be associated with Brief Encounter, while closer to home, Corrour is most familiar to many for its part in both Trainspotting films.
Many stations have been impressively restored, reflecting their pre-pandemic status as growing attractions in their own right, such as Wemyss Bay, one of Scotland’s gems, which was acclaimed this week in the first of Tim Dunn’s latest series of The Architecture the Railways Built, available on demand on the Yesterday channel.
Meanwhile, Glasgow Central, the country’s busiest, welcomed an astonishing 33 million passengers in the year to last March, not counting many others visiting its shops and bars or taking its fascinating behind-the-scenes tours.
East coast counterpart Edinburgh Waverley has been equally cherished, with a new glass roof, new platforms, and even plans for an additional mezzanine concourse to cope with growth from its annual 23 million passengers pre-Covid.
The capital’s main station has a unique claim to fame in being the only one in the world to be named after a novel – Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley series.
However, it turns out that Waverley isn’t actually the station’s official name, which I’m told it lost with the closure of Edinburgh’s other rail terminus, Princes Street Station, in 1965.
That got Blue Badge tourist guide June Edgar upset in the letters columns of The Scotsman in October after the official National Rail Enquiries information service confirmed the name change.
But she may be even more dismayed to hear there are plans for another Waverley station – in Yorkshire.
The station is proposed to serve a new housing development in a village of the same name beside the former Orgreave coal mine, between Rotherham and Sheffield.
But I don’t think we should be too precious about duplicating station names.
After all, Scott’s Waverley was an Englishman and there is an area of Surrey with that name, so there could have been another Waverley station already.
Furthermore, other station names are shared by different parts of Britain: there is a Queen Street and a Charing Cross in Glasgow but also in Cardiff and London respectively.
For that reason, if the Yorkshire Waverley station is built, I think there will be little risk of confusion or passengers booking tickets to the wrong station.
Edinburgh’s main station also retains Waverley on its signs, including on platforms, as Network Rail, the owner and operator of Britain’s 20 biggest stations, confirmed to me.
While it’s important to keep that heritage, there’s also a danger in being overly parochial, since the station is a major gateway to the city and Scotland for visitors from afar as well as being used by Scots.
It reminds me of the perennial campaigns to rename airports, like turning Prestwick into Robert Burns International, which even became a petition to the Scottish Parliament.
Such moves seem to be pointless in just confusing foreign visitors with a name that’s already internationally famous.
We know Edinburgh’s main station is Waverley. Let it be an educational surprise to those who don’t.