Station Improvements (Edinburgh)

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Enterprise, Lifelong Learning and Transport – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 30th March 2006.

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Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour 2:15 pm, 30th March 2006

To ask the Scottish Executive what timescale is envisaged for major improvement works to Waverley and Haymarket railway stations. (S2O-9470)

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

Construction for the Waverley station infrastructure works project was on site in January and will be complete, on time and within budget, in December 2007. The City of Edinburgh Council is conducting a feasibility study to examine the wider options for development at Haymarket station. That study is due to be complete in spring 2007.

In the meantime, Transport Scotland, First ScotRail and Network Rail are establishing which additional facilities should be delivered at Haymarket during 2006 and are considering the alleviation of platform overcrowding, the improvement of waiting facilities and the provision of improved surfaces for visually impaired passengers.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

I welcome the fact that progress is being made on both stations. Will the minister use his influence to ensure that Transport Scotland does some work on the Waverley project so that Waverley station can be considered in the strategic transport projects review next year? Does the minister share my frustration that last year marked 20 years since the first plan was drawn up to make Haymarket accessible? Now that we have given the green light to trams, there seems to be no obstacle to our getting on and making sure that the transport interchange—which was in First ScotRail's franchise plans—is delivered. Can we get the blockage removed and see the improvements being made to our two major stations on the ground of their national and strategic importance?

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

I accept the drive that Sarah Boyack brings to the issue. I am happy to assure her that I will discuss with Malcolm Reid, the chief executive of Transport Scotland, how best to take forward the transport improvements at Waverley station, and I assure her that I will look constantly and consistently at how we can best achieve that. I share her frustration about Haymarket railway station. We have an opportunity to provide a shining example of a good transport interchange in Edinburgh between trams, heavy rail and the bus services that connect at Haymarket. Haymarket appears to be an important transport interchange not only for Edinburgh but, strategically, for Scotland, because there is potential for many people to use it. I will do what I can to push the matter that Sarah Boyack raises.

Photo of Alasdair Morgan Alasdair Morgan Scottish National Party

The minister will know that traffic from Fife and the north-east of Scotland is affected by capacity constraints on the line from Inverkeithing and across the Forth rail bridge to Edinburgh. Those constraints are just as important as the constraints that are caused by platform capacity problems at Haymarket and Waverley. Is it intended to improve the signalling at Inverkeithing to allow more trains to cross the bridge and take advantage of increased capacity at Waverley?

Photo of Tavish Scott Tavish Scott Liberal Democrat

When the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine line opens, freight services that currently take space from passenger services will be removed from the Forth rail bridge, which will bring improvements. I would be happy to share the details with Parliament.

I will look into Alasdair Morgan's point on signalling. I cannot answer his question here and now, but I will be happy to write to him.