Stronger Waverley roof will save public from bridge jumpers

PASSENGERS at Edinburgh's main railway station are to be protected by strengthened glass after a "near miss" involving a man who jumped to his death from a bridge above.

An area of tough, dark glass under North Bridge will form part of Waverley station's new roof following police fears about the safety of travellers.

The man crashed through the roof on to a platform a month ago, just feet away from passengers, The Scotsman has learned.

It is understood to have happened late one weekend afternoon, when the station was busy.

British Transport Police said it was only through luck that other people who had jumped from the bridge in the past had not fallen into the station.

Chief Superintendent Martyn Ripley, the force's Scotland area commander, said: "My fear is that someone is going to be killed. Four people have jumped (from North Bridge] this year, and one narrowly missed some passengers.

"We do not want someone else to die as a result of this."

Network Rail, which yesterday announced plans for the new roof as part of a 130 million overhaul of the station, said it would include extra protection under North Bridge.

The toughened glass area – which is also designed to catch objects thrown from the bridge – would be tinted so nothing could be seen from below.

A spokesman for Network Rail, which operates the station, said: "The strengthened area is to cope with the challenges we face in that area, including litter."

The firm lodged a planning application for the station upgrade with the city council yesterday and hopes to start work this autumn.

The roof replacement work is due to begin in a year's time and be complete in autumn 2013.

It will involve replacing more than 17,000 glass panels which comprise the 34,000 square metre roof, which covers an area the equivalent of about eight football pitches.

Over the rest of the roof, clear glass would be substituted for the current 17,000 cloudy safety-glass panels which reduce daylight inside the station.

This is expected to cut lighting bills significantly.

However, original plans to incorporate solar panels in the new roof have been shelved because of the cost and the need for further testing of the technology.

Network Rail said the new roof would be designed for the potential future reuse of rainwater for cleaning and in toilets.

Water would be channelled into a storage tank at the east end of the station, which was installed ten years ago to supply trains but never used. However, connecting this to the rest of the station will need extra spending.

Other elements of the scheme include removing disused buildings, such as a Royal Mail shed near the Calton Road entrance, at the north-east end. Several temporary buildings on the concourse would also go.

A new canopy would be installed over platforms eight and nine at the south end of the station, the Calton Road and Waverley Bridge entrances refurbished and ironwork repaired.