DISABLED campaigners are hoping for action over access problems at Waverley station after a summit attended by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.
The meeting, chaired by Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs, brought together the campaigners, politicians and Network Rail, following long-running concerns about the difficulties faced by elderly and disabled travellers in getting in and out of Waverley since taxis and other vehicles were banned in 2014.
Plans for a new pick-up point in the New Street car park adjoining the station were put on hold in July because of repairs needed to North Bridge overhead and potential other long-term uses for the site.
Robin Wickes, vice-chair of Edinburgh Access Panel, said the summit had discussed both long- and short-term solutions.
He said it was clear the planned New Street pick-up point could not go ahead, at least for about two years, because of work needing to be done to North Bridge above.
“What we are saying is given there is going to be a delay let’s identify short-term remedies to the current situation.”
He said one suggestion was to staff the recommended drop-off point for disabled people at the back of the station in Calton Road.
Currently there is a buzzer which people can use to call for staff to come and help them reach the main concourse.
But Mr Wickes said: “It’s very isolated and remote from the hubbub of the station and not a pleasant place to have to wait. Network Rail understands that and Humza Yousaf said let’s look at that.
“We’re also looking at the provision of electric buggies, like you get at airports, to transport people from their point of entry to the station to the platform.”
He said the station currently had one buggy but it was not compatible with the lifts.
And Mr Wickes said the access panel believed the north ramp from Waverley Bridge into the station could become a taxi rank.
“One of the downsides of the New Street proposal was it was only going to be pick-up. We would far prefer a single consolidated rank for picking up and dropping off.”
Mr Briggs said Network Rail had made clear it was considering taking on additional passenger assistance staff at the station. “I hope a decision can be made and these extra staff can be recruited as soon as possible. The meeting was assured by the Transport Minister that he would exert ministerial pressure wherever possible to push for solutions.
“The minister also stated the New Street taxi rank proposal was ‘sub-optimal’ and I agree as it was going to be a pick up only rank.”
A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “The summit was a useful opportunity to discuss how access to Waverley station can be improved in the short and long term and discussions were constructive.
“Mr Yousaf was disappointed to hear about the concerns the panel have in relation to taxi rank provision and has asked Network Rail to consider what more can be done.”