Sta­tions ‘may have to close’ to cope with rail chaos

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By ALAS­TAIR DAL­TON

Scot­land’ s rail­ways boss says Ed­in­burgh’ s Waver­ley or Hay­mar­ket sta­tions could be closed dur­ing ma­jor events to pre­vent a re­peat of last month’s rail chaos.

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Alex Hynes said pas­sen­ger num­bers had to be man­aged to avoid a re­peat of Waver­ley be­ing swamped like it was on the last Satur­day of the Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val last month, when there was travel chaos.

Mr Hynes said “quota con­trols” might be needed on the busiest days.

Ed­in­burgh’ s Waver­ley or Hay­mar­ket sta­tions could be closed dur­ing ma­jor events, a rail chief has told MSPS.

Scot­land’s Rail­way man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Alex Hynes said pas­sen­ger num­bers had to be man­aged to avoid a re­peat of Waver­ley be­ing swamped on the last Satur­day of the Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val last month.

It co­in­cided with a Scot­land v France rugby match at Mur­ray field, with pas­sen­gers com­plain­ing of be­ing crammed into trains “like sar­dines”.

Mr Hynes, who has a new joint ti­tle as head of Scotrail and Net­work Rail Scot­land, said: “I’m not sure it is wise for us to host rugby at Mur­ray­field at the same time as the busiest Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val week­end.”

He also asked: “Is it wise to keep Waver­ley and Hay­mar­ket open at the same time?”

MrHyn est old the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment’s ru­ral econ­omy and con­nec­tiv­ity com­mit­tee: “It’s clear to me we’re go­ing to have to man­age this risk in a dif­fer­ent way.” He said he was al­ready start­ing talks with Scot­tish Rugby.

Mr Hynes said “quota con­trols” might be needed on the busiest days.

Scotrail said quota con­trols could in­clude spe­cial trains, ticket types and their avail­abil­ity, and re­stric­tions such as day and time of travel.

Mr Hynes said Scotrail was con­tin­u­ing to get more trains, but the fes­ti­val was also “only go­ing to get big­ger”.

He said that de­spite hav­ing more car­riages avail­able than ever be­fore, the num­ber avail­able on 24 Au­gust was “not suf­fi­cient” to ac­com­mo­date the num­ber of peo­ple who wanted to travel.

“We took many peo­ple into Ed­in­burgh and clearly the num­bers of peo­ple who wanted to travel back at the same time cre­ated some pres­sure on the sys­tem,” he said. “We let our cus­tomers down.”

Mr Hynes said part of the dis­rup­tion had been caused by pas­sen­ger alarms be­ing ac­ti­vated three times on trains, which brought them to a halt.

He said an “in­ci­dent learn­ing re­view” had been or­dered, whose “learn­ings” would be pub­lished.

“The learn­ings won’ t just af­fect the rail­way, the learn­ings will also af­fect ma­jor event man­age­ment in the city of Ed­in­burgh be­cause these events are get­ting big­ger and big­ger,” he said.

“We op­er­ate a walk-up rail­way and that presents some lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges and so one of the things we need to think about is do we ac­tu­ally put quota con­trols in on those very, very busy days?

“These are all things that we’re think­ing about be­cause the Ed­in­burgh Fes­ti­val is only go­ing to get big­ger, so we might need to adapt our op­er­a­tion ac­cord­ingly.”

A Scot­tish Rugby spokesman said the date of the France game had been known well in ad­vance, “cre­at­ing am­ple time to flag and dis­cuss any con­cerns – for this year’s games none were re­ceived”.

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