Waverley on track to top after busiest month ever

Waverley Station. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Waverley Station. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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EDINBURGH’S premier railway station enjoyed its ­busiest- ever month with nearly six million passengers travelling through the terminal in August.

The record-breaking figure comes days after the Edinburgh International Festival announced it’s most successful programme having raked in more than £3 million at the box office for the first time.

Official Network Rail statistics showed that 5,995,730 people visited the station throughout August as people flocked to the Capital’s festivals.

This is nearly three times as many travellers using the ­station than in an average month and is a considerable hike on last August when £5.5 million people passed through Waverley.

Passenger numbers peaked on Saturday, August 23, with a quarter of a million people choosing to travel through the station, which traditionally handles around 70,000 a day.

Station manager Juliet Donnachie said the surge in traveller numbers had posed “its own unique challenges” which she said would help staff cope with the expected boom in passengers taking trains to the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles. She said: “The Edinburgh Festival and Fringe events are always an extremely busy time for Waverley, but this year we have experienced an unprecedented number of people passing through the station.

“We have also been keen to promote Waverley as a cultural hub within the city and have welcomed Fringe and Festival acts to entertain our visitors.

“The performances in the station have been a great ­success, giving passengers a flavour of what to expect from the world’s largest cultural and arts festival as soon as they step off of the train.”

Waverley is Scotland’s second-busiest station with around 25 million visitors per year. Glasgow Central is the country’s most used station, with an average of 38 million visitors per annum.

More than £300m has been spent on the station over the past decade under a major modernisation programme.

Last week, Network Rail announced it would replace the old taxi ranks at Waverley with two new platforms in a bid to attract even more passengers.

Rail chiefs will spend £25m on its latest investment programme, which will also see other platforms lengthened to accommodate longer, busier trains from London and ­Glasgow. Work will begin in February to create more space for platforms, as well as ­remodelling tracks on approach to the station.

The improvements form part of two separate investment programmes, one by the Scottish Government to allow longer trains and faster services between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and another by the Westminster to upgrade the East Coast Main Line.

Rail bosses say disruption to passengers will be kept to a minimum, with work completed by March 2016.