THE giant concourse being built at Haymarket train station will open in time for the Christmas rush.
Passengers will be able to use the new station from December 19, Network Rail chiefs confirmed exclusively to the Evening News last night.
The early Christmas present for passengers comes as the Capital readies itself for a bumper 2014 and the lid being lifted on a number of major projects – a working tram network key among them.
The Haymarket redevelopment is vital to enable the station to handle increasing numbers of passengers.
Under the new-look concourse floor space has been tripled, while an upper mezzanine with shops and office space has been added.
It is believed Marks & Spencer will be opening a convenience store inside the station, similar to the existing outlet at Edinburgh Waverley.
Passengers will enter and exit the station from a new entrance running off Haymarket Terrace for the first time.
Network Rail Haymarket project manager Tom McPake, pictured right, said the station would be “genuine value for money”.
The overhaul designed to cater for a predicted 125 per cent increase in passenger numbers over the next 15 years has cost £25 million. Next month’s opening will release the shackles on another of Edinburgh’s biggest transport routes. And more relief is on the horizon for travellers, with refurbishment works at Waverley Station to be completed early next year and the long-delayed tram line to be running by May.
Three sets of lifts and elevations will run inside the redesigned station.
Haymarket trader Alison Adamson-Ross said: “It’s almost impossible to believe they’ve managed to create that much space in such a small area.”
Works will continue at Haymarket until April next year to remove the old footbridge and renovate the entrance.
City transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “This will provide a real boost for the area and even more so next year when trams begin to run beside the station, creating a transport hub benefiting walkers, cyclists, rail, bus and tram passengers.”
‘A missed opportunity’
THE design of Haymarket’s new station has been labelled a missed opportunity by sustainable transport groups.
Keith Irving, head of pro-pedestrian campaigners Living Streets Scotland, said more entry points to the transport hub were needed. He said: “The reconstruction of Haymarket is an opportunity missed to improve access from all directions. There is a lot of congestion on Dalry Road and there is only a very narrow access along the footway outside Ryries (Bar).
“There’s going to be a huge demand for access, from people using wheelchairs as well as people generally.”