A unique, new lift access to Edinburgh’s Waverley station was officially opened 14 August, providing step-free access from Princes Street into the station for the first time in Waverley’s history.
Adding a spectacular new opportunity for travellers to view Edinburgh’s world famous skyline, the lifts were opened by Transport Minister Keith Brown as part of a celebration to mark the completion of the Waverley Steps Improvement Project.
As well as installing two 16-person lifts to connect the station to Princes Street, via the roof of the Princes Mall, the project team has created a new covered step and escalator access between Princes Street and the north entrance to Waverley station.
The official completion marks the end of a challenging 18 month project for Network Rail and contractors Morgan Sindall.
David Simpson, Network Rail route managing director for Scotland, said: “The ‘Windy Steps’ have been given a vital upgrade and are now accessible and convenient for all passengers. The entrance is now stylish and bright and the renovated Princes Mall rooftop provides the perfect view of Edinburgh’s skyline.
“The project proves our commitment to create a modern facility that is respectful of Waverley Station’s historical significance but satisfies the requirements of the modern traveller, and we look forward to the final completion of the station works as a whole.”
The Waverley Steps improvements were funded by Transport Scotland and are in addition to a £130m Network Rail investment in Waverley’s roof and Market Street entrance to improve the experience of passengers using the station.
Keith Brown, Transport Minister, said: “Edinburgh is currently the focus of global attention due to the Festival season being in full swing and Cultural Summit. This is therefore an ideal time to showcase the major improvements that are being made to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of our public transport infrastructure.
“We have invested around £16 million to provide new escalators, stairs, and two lifts at Waverley Station - providing easy and step-free access from Princes Street for the first time in 140 years. I am delighted that passengers can now enjoy a pleasant and more accessible entrance to the main station in our capital city.
“This project compliments the wider £130 million Waverley roof project which chimes with our determination to deliver a 21st century rail service for Scotland that offers a better experience for the public, tourists and business.”
Around 14,000 passengers use the Princes Street entrance each day and the new step-free access creates a more accessible route to and from the station under the shelter of weather-proof glass.
John Leslie, infrastructure area manager for Morgan Sindall, added: “As an iconic and well-used facility in Edinburgh, the improvements have completely transformed the Princes Street entrance of Waverley Station. The new glass canopy not only improves the aesthetics of the entrance, the covered area and series of escalators and lifts make it easier for travellers using the busy station. This was a technically-challenging project for our highly-skilled team and the work carried out was sensitive to the historical location in the city. We are pleased to have again worked alongside Network Rail to successfully deliver this project.”
Elsewhere in Waverley, a repaired and re-glazed roof will be completed by 2013, allowing natural light to stream into the building, while a soon to be completed step-free access from Market Street will modernise the south side of the station. Improvements to Platforms 8 and 9 and platform and concourse re-surfacing will also help to enhance the station environment for all users.
The works are the biggest enhancement of Waverley Station since the end of the 19th Century.