You couldn't make it up. We're trying to create modern transport systems that allow east inter-connection - so Network Rail decides to throw black cabs out of Edinburgh Waverley!
Taxis have plied their trade in and through Waverley Station since Dickens was a lad yet Network Rail bosses have agreed to permanently forbid cabbies from bringing their taxi direct onto station grounds from the end of July.
Waverley is Scotland's largest train station and one of the busiest in the UK. Taxi officials and cabbies from the capital city have labelled the move a “nightmare” and “out of proportion” and predict travel pandemonium come July - just as Edinburgh's hectic tourist season gets into full swing.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “Network Rail has agreed to remove taxis and private vehicles from Edinburgh Waverley Station by the end of July 2012.
“Waverley is the last major station operated by Network Rail to allow private vehicles under the station roof and this has been designated as a security risk.
“Network Rail is required to comply with legislation to remove vehicles prior to the London Olympic Games. The order applies to all major transport hubs across Britain.
“Network Rail has been working with Edinburgh City Council to examine options for an alternative location for a station taxi rank and drop-off area.”
At the moment, Edinburgh cabbies pay an £800 yearly fee to rank in Waverley Station to allow customers the convenience of being dropped off or picked up by a taxi direct from the station. They have now been told that all licenses for this will not be renewed.
Removing the rank from the station will cause a huge inconvenience for taxi customers as they will not be able to be dropped off close to the platform and will therefore have to carry their heavy luggage down the narrow, steep ramp. Wheelchair users and elderly passengers will also find accessibility to the station much more difficult.
Chairman of the Edinburgh Licensed Taxi Partnership, Les McVay, fumed:
“This couldn’t have happened at a worse time.
“Network Rail has always seen the taxi rank as a bit of a thorn in its side, but this is a nightmare.
“The Council will have to come up with an alternative plan. There are only around five taxi spaces on Waverley Bridge and there are 14 million people travelling through the station every year.
“With the closure of Waverley, Haymarket and the extensive tram works, it’s becoming a vicious circle.
“We can’t just sit around in undesignated areas as we get moved away and we can’t just drive around the city centre - that would be an environmental issue. It would cause chaos.
“They've seen the opportunity on the back of the Olympics to play the terrorism card.”
Taxi driver of 20 years, Jim Taylor, commented: “Have they thought about how it will affect wheelchair users and disabled passengers? This proposal is discriminating against them and leaving them at a real disadvantage.
“Every taxi driver is vetted before a licence is granted so the security is already there. The whole thing is breathtaking. Banning cars is maybe fair enough but taxis have been security checked.”
Unite the Union representative Eric Barry disagrees with the decision to remove the cab rank and says that they have not “thought this through”.
He said: “This decision makes it difficult for the elderly lugging their baggage. What about disabled access? I don’t think Network Rail have thought this through.
“They’ve brought up the usual issue of security, but if a terrorist wants to blow us up they’d find a way. Some of the measures are totally out of proportion to the security risk.”