A new masterplan is to be devised to ensure Scotland’s second busiest station can cope with an expected massive passenger increase.
The move follows calls for significant improvements to Waverley Station in Edinburgh by business leaders and transport campaigners, as revealed by Scotland on Sunday six months ago.
The rail hub - second only to Glasgow Central - is forecast to handle 40 million passengers by 2024, a 66 per cent increase.
Owner and manager Network Rail will lead a group with the city council to investigate what impact this will have on the station and surrounding streets.
It will draw up short, medium and long-term plans with fellow group members Transport Scotland, VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce and neighbouring building owners.
Major upgrades to the station’s shops and catering were urged last September by groups including the chamber of commerce.
A spokeswoman for chief executive Liz McAreavey said: “Waverley is the first point of entry to the capital by rail – can we honestly say we are leading the charge in terms of customer experience?”
Paul Tetlaw, policy forum convener at sustainable transport group Transform Scotland, said: “We have long campaigned for a partnership approach to the development of Waverley.
“It isn’t just Network Rail’s station, it is the gateway to Scotland and to Scotland’s capital city.
“It deserves a similar vision and similar facilities to those now present at other major stations such as King’s Cross and St Pancras in London.”
BACKGROUND: Business leaders press for a more stylish Waverley Station
The masterplan is separate to work to make more space for trains, with extensions to three platforms already underway.
Alex Hynes, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance with Network Rail Scotland, said: “Waverley has seen its footfall more than double from 10 million to over 24 million within the last ten years and estimates suggest it will almost double again, to 40 million, by 2024.
“Such a steep increase is a positive indicator of the railway’s economic influence on the city and a clear sign further investment will be required.
“We are creating additional rail provision within Waverley. However, more trains mean more people and that inevitably adds to the pressure on station infrastructure and the surrounding streets.”
City council transport convener Lesley Macinnes said: “With population and visitor numbers forecast to grow, we need to ensure we manage these, both in the station and in the city centre as a whole to deliver the best possible experience for all.”
Transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “Waverley is the first impression for many as they arrive in our capital city.
"It is both a portal to the city and wider Scotland.”
READ MORE: Edinburgh Waverley platforms to be extended for new trains
Graeme McKinnie, Virgin Trains’ general manager for Scotland on the east coast route, said: “We’re delighted to see this approach by Network Rail, which will help make the most of Waverley – a gem in the national network of railway stations and a major economic asset to the city.
"With all the investment that is going into improved train services, we need this kind of integrated approach to maximise the benefit for customers.”