Waverley vehicle ban threat in council row

The barriers that have been erected by Network Rail at the Market Street entrance to the station. Picture: Greg Macvean
The barriers that have been erected by Network Rail at the Market Street entrance to the station. Picture: Greg Macvean
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FRUSTRATED Waverley chiefs have vowed to shut the station to all vehicles as their spat with the council reaches boiling point.

Edinburgh City Council has hit the roof after a pair of ­unauthorised bollards were erected at the Market Street pedestrian entrance.

Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds has called for them to be removed “with immediate effect” branding them a “danger to the public”.

However, her concerns have fallen on deaf ears with a spokesman for Network Rail insisting the steel barriers are “on railway land” and therefore do not require permission.

He went on to state the safety measures will remain and that “the only credible alternative would be to close the station to all vehicles” – a proposal which was originally floated back in February 2012 to deal with fears of terrorist threats ahead of the Olympics. At present 100 cabbies pay £1800 for a permit to enter the station through controversial barriers set up on the vehicle entrance to the station on Waverley Bridge.

Cab boss Tony Kenmuir, of Central Taxis, said of a full vehicle ban: “We could see this coming to be honest, this halfway measure is not working. One hundred drivers ­cannot service the entire station ­especially with the time it takes through the barriers.

“What you have now is passengers leaving the station and taking a cab from the rank on Waverley Bridge, but the taxis outside haven’t paid £1800 for a security pass.

“There’s no point in that, the only way to properly service the station as a trade is if it’s either open or closed to all taxis.”

Despite this the city council is still hopeful of finding a solution with Network Rail.

Cllr Hinds said: “We still have very real concerns about the barrier access arrangements on the south ramp into Waverley ­Station. With at least two taxis queuing back on to Waverley Bridge itself to get past the ­barrier even at quiet times, this is just not acceptable in terms of pedestrian safety.

“We will be raising the matter with Network Rail as a matter of priority and will take enforcement action if no ­resolution can be reached by discussions alone.”

A letter is already winging its way to Network Rail headquarters requesting the removal of the Market Street bollards and a “resolution” to the south ramp issues.

Last week, the News revealed taxis were being forced to queue all the way up Waverley Bridge as the new automatic barriers created delays and traffic disruption. A number of cyclists are also understood to have hit the “pop-up” barriers.

Road to ruckus

February 2012: Rail chiefs attempt to ban all taxis and cars from entering station amid terrorist fears ahead of the Olympics.

August 2012: Network Rail backs down in favour of an advanced anti-terror screening system for vehicles.

April 2013: The installation of security barriers is approved – limited access will be maintained to cater for elderly and disabled.

January 2014: The barriers go live without any prior warning to the city council, which had intended to install a pedestrian crossing nearby.

Jan/Feb 2014: Network Rail drafts in two stewards to manually operate the new barriers as the automatic 60-second wait causes tailbacks.

February 2014: Station bosses are handed an ultimatum by city council chiefs to “sort out” the barriers or face having them scrapped.