Waverley revamp 'won't solve Scots rail headaches'
TRANSPORT minister Nicol Stephen was today accused of failing to tackle the major problems with the Scottish rail industry as he unveiled plans for a redevelopment of Waverley Station.
Mr Stephen unveiled detailed plans for a 150 million revamp of the station, which includes new access from Princes Street and extra platforms to provide space for some extra services.
The showpiece of the new plans is a giant glass and steel canopy over the Waverley Steps.
But shadow transport minister Fergus Ewing MSP accused the Scottish Executive of failing to get to grips with the problems facing rail passengers in Scotland.
He compared the modernising of the main entrance to the station to carrying out "cosmetic surgery" on a heart patient.
The plans, which are on display to the public in the station concourse, will see the current steps from Princess Street to the station completely redesigned.
A series of escalators will be added and a metal and glass walkway would shelter passengers from the elements.
A new express escalator into the station would also be created, and elevators would be installed to improve disabled access.
The work is part of the 150m Phase One redevelopment of the station which will also see the entire western approach to the station changed. Track layouts will be streamlined to remove one of the biggest bottlenecks on the Scottish rail network and extra platforms will also be created.
If planning permission is granted, work on the steps is scheduled to begin in January, with the improvements to the track layout beginning in 2007.
But Mr Ewing said the Executive had its priorities wrong and needed to look at improving the rest of the rail network before any other work was carried out.
He said: "Improvements to the rail services at Waverley are the golden key to unlocking the padlock of a decent rail network for the whole of Scotland.
"Without the required improvements to the capacity there, our transport system remains stuck in an unsatisfactory state.
"Carrying out this work to the steps is like taking a patient suffering from a serious heart condition for cosmetic surgery. The role of government is to decide between work which is desirable and work which is essential. I feel it is failing to do that."
Mr Stephen said the work on the steps was a vital part of the redevelopment of the whole station and stressed that improvements to rail services were part of the bigger phase one project.
He said: "This is the first step towards a bigger, better rail network for all of Scotland. The plans for the transformation of Waverley Station
also signal the start of major improvements across Scotland, with more trains passing through the station, reducing congestion and allowing extra services."
Robert Samson, director of the Rail Passengers Committee Scotland, also welcomed the planned improvements, saying:
"Glasgow Central and Waverley are undoubtedly the busiest stations in Scotland and it is a key measure that they are made easily accessible to passengers.
"As they provide easier access however, it is important everyone involved in this project ensures there are enough trains for the people in the station."
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