A CONTROVERSIAL plan to ban cars and taxis from a major Scottish railway station means disabled passengers could be ferried to their trains by “golf buggies”.
Waverly station in Edinburgh is set to ban vehicles at the end of the year as part of a security crackdown.
Network Rail, who operate the station, have agreed to open up a car park for drop offs – but it is 450 yards from the ticket office.
Network Rail today confirmed they are considered a plan to use “mobility assistance vehicles” to help disabled passengers reach their trains.
Disability groups today complained the move showed how ill thought through the entire traffic ban at Waverley is.
Edinburgh City Council opposes the plan to ban cars and taxis, and will refuse to pay the £1 million cost.
A Network Rail spokesman admitted they were looking at using electrically-powered vehicles but denied they would be golf buggies.
He said: “We have been in contact with disability and elderly groups regarding the improvements being made at the station and we recognise that the removal of a drop-off area within the station will cause concern for some customers.
“We are developing a range of solutions to make the transition as easy as possible and are also committed to working with the council to find a permanent solution to provide taxi ranks and drop-off zones as close to the station as possible.
“The project will also consider contributing to the cost of works directly related to the removal of vehicles from Waverley.”
Dave Griffiths, of disability charity Ecas (corr), said he met Network Rail twice and said they only considered disability access as an “afterthought.”
He said: ”Network Rail suggested very late in the day that New Street car park could serve as a pick-up and drop-off point, which does not take into account the significant distances involved.
“And that is just for private vehicles. The nearest taxi rank will be on Waverly Bridge, a huge distance for those with disabilities and young children.
“It is bitterly disappointing that Network Rail have got this far, and have everything else arranged and are now trying to tag on something for disabled people.
“Have we not missed an opportunity here?”
Edinburgh MP Mark Lazarowicz said: “There will be passengers with disabilities and other mobility issues and there is a great danger of deterring people from using this station.
“No one wants to have to drag their suitcases for 15-20 minutes after a long train journey.
“We need to make sure vehicles are allowed to stay or that any alternative is equally accessible.”
A Network Rail spokesman confirmed the organisation was considering using “mobility assistance vehicles”, which are used in other stations.
The spokesman denied golf buggies would be used in the station.