City changes gear over bus station

EDINBURGH’S new bus station could close after just four years and be moved to Waverley Bridge to fully link buses with trains, it was revealed today.

The news comes six months before the opening of the bus terminus at St Andrew Square after two years of construction , but city leaders believe the cost and upheaval would be worthwhile.

The new station is due to open in November, replacing its predecessor in the same location, as part of the 50 million Harvey Nichols development.

But even as final works are carried out, the city council is already looking four to eight years ahead to the proposed 400m redevelopment of Waverley Station.

As well as increasing the number of platforms at the station and adding a shopping centre, it is hoped the massive scheme could turn the station into a fully-fledged transport interchange. Part of that could include a bus station . The plan now is to enter into talks with station owner Railtrack and the Strategic Rail Authority .

In a report to councillors, the director of city development, Andrew Holmes, says: " With the delivery of this project now a firm prospect in the next few years, there are potentially opportunities for accommodating integrated facilities for strategic bus services.

"The possibility of relocating the bus station in a few years’ time to a redeveloped Waverley Station should be considered."

Council transport leader, Councillor Andrew Burns, said: "Potentially, that area around Waverley Bridge could be used. But it’s five to six years ahead. Although St Andrew Square is going to be fantastic compared with the old bus station, a better solution, ultimately, would be to integrate buses with the rail station."

He said it had been " not an option" to hold back on a new bus station .

The council believes the attractiveness of the St Andrew Square site would make it easy to get out of the lease with landowner Coal Pension Properties.

Mr Burns said: " That is likely to be an extremely desirable piece of property."

Colin Howden, campaigns manager at green transport lobby group TRANSform Scotland, said: "Waverley is out of the council’s hands, so I’ve some sympathy with them putting a bus station in St Andrew Square in the meantime. But perhaps they should have considered other locations, such as Haymarket ."

Tory transport spokesman, Councillor Allan Jackson, said: " Any possibility of a transport interchange is worth a look.

"I’d have reservations about closing any street, however. There are enough road closures planned in the city centre already ."

A Railtrack spokeswoman said: "In developing the designs for Waverley, Railtrack takes very seriously the need for the integration of different modes of transport. How the plans evolve will be subject to a host of discussions with various bodies, principally Edinburgh City Council."