Comment: The set-up needs a long, hard look

Share this article
Have your say

It’s hardly the welcome home that you would hope for as the train pulls in to Waverley. After struggling off the train with your cases, you find a long queue at the taxi rank. The station staff are hardly sympathetic, saying if you don’t want to queue you can take a hike – up to Waverley Bridge with your bags to get a cab there.

That seems to be what we can expect, judging by the Network Rail spokesman who says that most of us “should be capable” of heading up the hill – he doesn’t say anything about luggage – to catch a taxi.

OK, it’s hardly climbing Arthur’s Seat, the young and fit among us could manage it most days without too much trouble.

But for an awful lot of people that is not an easy climb, especially with heavy bags in tow. Even for the young and fit, with some bulky luggage and a couple of kids, it is quite daunting.

If we are put out by what is happening, what are all the tourists going to think of Edinburgh when they arrive to such scenes.

We hear a lot these days about integrated transport. It is supposed to be getting easier to use public transport and to switch from one type to another.

What is happening at Waverley right now flies in the face of all that. Is telling people that they have to pull heavy bags up a hill as part of their journey really going to help attract more people to travel by train?

Of course Network Rail is in a difficult position with the government insisting it takes fairly drastic steps to protect mainline stations from any potential terrorist threat.

But the company doesn’t give the impression of caring that deeply what happens to its passengers once they step off its train, when it advises cabbies to turn off their meters until they leave the station and passengers to get out of the station to catch a cab.

The very least that Network Rail owes its passengers is to work closely with the cabbies and the city council to try to thrash out a better system that avoids overly long waits for station taxis.

That means firstly monitoring closely the new arrangements designed to ease the current problems by cutting the number of taxis allowed in to Waverley to ensure they are having the desired effect.

Then it means having a long hard look at the rest of the set-up to see what else can be improved.