Confusion over council road closure shambles

Workmen at the railway bridge on Russell Road. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Workmen at the railway bridge on Russell Road. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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A ROW has broken out after a key road was closed for works – despite the council insisting none would take place.

Confusion reigned after diversion signs were put up directing drivers away from Russell Road, in Murrayfield, yesterday morning, only to be removed again just before the evening rush hour.

Network Rail has now insisted it will press on with plans to carry out maintenance on a rail bridge, forcing the closure of the street, which is well used by football and rugby fans on match days.

City transport leader Lesley Hinds last week stepped in to postpone a planned six-month closure over fears that it would cause serious disruption during the Six Nations.

But Network Rail yesterday said it has e-mails from council officials dating back to November giving it the authority to close the road and carry out maintenance on the Edinburgh-to-Glasgow line crossing.

It added that engineers would report to the site today to get work under way.

The road, which runs between Roseburn Street and Murieston Crescent, is a major route for fans going to Scotland rugby internationals at Murrayfield, with hundreds using the short cut to get to Dalry Road and avoid congestion at Haymarket.

During last year’s autumn internationals, Russell Road was recommended by police and stewards as an alternative route. Coaches carrying visiting fans to Tynecastle also use the road for parking while games are in progress.

Football and rugby fans expressed dismay when the plans were revealed, with Tom Watson, chairman of the Hearts Supporters’ Club, saying “a lot of fans” would face disruption on match days.

Councillor Hinds told the Evening News: “While we understand that there are essential works required, Network Rail has not yet obtained formal council permission to close Russell Road and we have instructed them today to remove the closure with immediate effect.”

A Network Rail spokesman said the council was informed of the works as long ago as November, and that Hearts and the SRU were also told about the plans.

The spokesman said: “These works are vital to the long-term maintenance of the Glasgow-Edinburgh line and need to be carried out. The closure of the road was first raised with the council in November last year and confirmed in December. We have also liaised with Hearts and the SRU regarding the work and its potential impact on their operations.”