Taxi wars as council tries to overturn ban on cabs at Waverley
COUNCIL leaders are on a collision course with rail bosses over a proposed taxi ban from the capital’s main railway station.
Plans to force taxis out on to the streets of the city for the first time are set to be opposed by the new city council administration.
But Network Rail, the station’s owner, insists it has no intention of backing down over plans which it claims are a security measure that will bring Waverley into line with other major stations across Britain.
The Scotsman can reveal short-term permits, which will expire in September, will be issued at the end of this month.
City transport leader Lesley Hinds said: “We are going to ask Network Rail to think again about this.
“There has to be a balance struck between security concerns and providing proper access to the station, and we don’t feel there has been. The current proposals are not acceptable.”
When the plans emerged in February, it was claimed they were part of a nationwide security clampdown in the run-up to the Olympics.
However, it later emerged that Network Rail had agreed to put off the introduction of the measures while it discussed the provision of new taxi ranks outside the station with the council.
But the council is to step up pressure on the company by calling for a rethink before any work gets under way to install bollards on the ramps leading to and from Waverley Bridge.
It is expected to point out that numerous other vehicles will continue to access the station at certain times for deliveries. Network Rail insisted it had no intention of backing down and that it was merely enforcing a UK government policy to improve security in major stations.
A spokesman said: “Waverley is the last major transport hub in Britain where taxis are still allowed inside the building. There are ongoing discussions with the council but these are over additional provision of external taxi ranks. Our plan is still to bring this in by the end of the year.”
MPs and MSPs have also attacked the proposals, which would leave commuters with a steep climb to reach the nearest rank on Waverley Bridge.
One source at the city council said there was scepticism about the need to improve security at Waverley when the present system had worked adequately for years.
He said: “It will be embarrassing for the city if people are forced to walk up the ramps to Waverley Bridge no matter how elderly or infirm they are. The new Waverley Steps have made access to Princes Street a lot easier but there is not a major rank there.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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