PLANS for a taxi rank in New Street car park next to Waverley station have been put on hold because rail bosses want to explore the potential for commercial development of the site.
Network Rail had proposed the rank in response to complaints about the difficulties which disabled and older people faced in getting in and out of the station after taxis and other vehicles were banned from Waverley in 2014.
But now the company has “paused” the project to look at “a number of potential longer-term initiatives that could be developed for that part of the station”.
The proposed new rank had been criticised for being pick-up only and requiring disabled people to follow a complicated route through the station, in and out of lifts, to reach it.
And taxi leaders said it was on the wrong side of the station to be practical.
Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs said: “While the proposed pick-up only taxi rank in the New Street car park was far from ideal, it would have made some improvement to the current access arrangements at the station and the fact that it now will not go ahead this year, if at all, is disappointing and frustrating.”
He said Network Rail had promised as recently as March that the rank would be created and would be a significant boost for vulnerable rail users. “Now the project is postponed with no alternatives offered. This is clearly unacceptable.”
It is thought the recent announcement of 3000 UK civil service jobs coming to a nearby site as part of the New Waverley development has encouraged Network Rail to consider other options for the New Street car park, which could include shops, offices or a hotel.
Robin Wickes, vice-chair of Edinburgh Access Panel, said he hoped a new option would be brought forward soon.
He said: “New Street was going to be pick-up only and the drop-off point was to remain at Calton Road, which is a lonely and bleak location for people with disabilities to have to wait for passenger assistance.
“The Transport Minister Humza Yousaf encouraged Network Rail to look at other options, such as the north ramp. We would welcome a consolidated rank that was both pick-up and drop off.”
One alternative could be to allow taxis to queue down the north ramp from Waverley Bridge with a turning circle at the bottom. Delivery vehicles would be switched to the Calton Road entrance to the station, but that would require a new goods lift which could prove costly.
Tony Kenmuir, of Central Taxis, said he was glad the New Street plan had been shelved. “It was only ever about trying to generate income from a dead bit of ground,” he said. Taxi drivers would be happy with the north ramp solution, but not if Network Rail wanted to charge them for using it, he added.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We have a detailed design for a taxi rank in the New Street car park which can be progressed. But given the number of developments in the area, including potential innovations for the station, we are sensibly taking the opportunity to carry out a review to get the best possible outcome for all interested parties.”