Traders will launch a weekly market in newly cleared space at the east end of Waverley station in Edinburgh in the latest stage of its re-development.
The three-month experiment from May is part of Network Rail’s extensive plans to turn the railway hub into the “heartbeat of the city”.
The firm, which owns and operates the station, also plans a continental-style piazza with cafes, and decorative plants and statues.
It hopes the market will be a hit with the 22 million people a year who use the station, with arts performances and exhibitions also planned for the market space.
The plans follow the completion of re-glazing the 25,000-pane station roof, the installation of a covered escalator at the Waverley Steps to Princes Street, and upgrading the Market Street entrance.
Some 20 to 30 stalls, selling wares produced by local and ethical traders, will occupy space vacated by a former Royal Mail depot near the Calton Road entrance.
The market will be held on Fridays – the station’s busiest day – from 2 May.
Network Rail station manager Juliet Donnachie said: “Recent improvements within the station have left us with a fantastic vacant space to the east side which we’re pleased to be able to use for this purpose.
“The market will feature crafts from local designers, ethically sourced gifts, Scottish produce and hot food, as well as a rotating programme of fairs including a monthly social enterprise day, art fair and vintage clothing events.”
The market will be run by LocalMotive Markets, a partnership between Vicky MacDonald, market operator of Edinburgh Markets, which runs a series of markets in the capital, and Tania Pramschufer, director of events firm Hand Up Media.
Ms MacDonald said: “We want the market to showcase the amazing products and services that local businesses with a conscience have to offer.”
Heritage and passenger watchdogs applauded the move. Marion Williams, director of the Cockburn Association, said: “We welcome the re-introduction of a market, something the city needs and a good use of the space currently available next to platform two.
“The three-month trial will indicate whether it is a popular use of the space and whether the interesting offering gathers support. I hope it does well.”
Passenger Focus manager Robert Samson said: “At major stations such as Waverley, passengers tell us they value a wide range of shopping options, as long as the passenger flow is unhindered.”
The former Waverley Market adjacent to the station, which is now occupied by the Princes Mall shopping centre, was the capital’s premier fruit and vegetable seller until it closed in 1974. The cast-iron building also housed an exhibition space hosting car, dog and flower shows, along with circuses and carnivals.
Longer-term plans include removing the shops and “clutter” from the main concourse to create more space for passengers. A “cycle hub” will be established beside the Calton Road exit, including secure cycle parking and lockers.
Jo Noble, who has been developing the station for Network Rail, said: “Waverley’s recent refurbishments, including the new roof, is only the starting point of the station’s journey to become a vibrant, exciting place as befits its status in Scotland’s capital.”