Edinburgh has two mainline train stations. The more famous Edinburgh Waverley where the majority of visitors to the city get on and off trains. Then there is the lesser-known Haymarket which is more convenient for the west of the city. It recently had a £25 million redevelopment which I think is worth celebrating.
The journey time between Haymarket and Waverley is only four minutes, so I used to wonder what the benefit was in having two stations in the city. That was before I lived in Edinburgh and now that this is my home I find that Haymarket was my best option for catching a train. For several years my flat was a ten minute walk, or 5 minute cycle, from Haymarket so it was very convenient for starting out on my trips. It meant avoiding the busy roads that I would have to take if Waverley was the only train station.
The main disadvantage of Haymarket, for a cyclist, used to be the lack of lifts to the platforms. Carrying my bike, fully loaded with panniers for a weekend trip, down those stairs was a real test of strength. Some lifts were eventually installed, but they did not serve all of the platforms. Inevitably, when returning home and feeling tired after lots of cycling and a long train journey I always seemed to arrive at one of the platforms with no lift. I would summons up my reserves of energy and haul my bike up the steps. I always thought that it must be worse for visitors to the city who do not know this and arrive with their bicycle, or luggage, at Haymarket pacing up and down the platform looking for a lift that does not exist.
That all changed with the redevelopment of Haymarket. There are now lifts to all platforms and the station has a spacious modern look. The main concourse almost feels too big as it never fills up with people, but this is because the station has been built with future growth in mind. Passenger numbers are expected to climb from the current four million a year to 10 million by 2030.
It feels a little soulless and lacking in the atmosphere and excitement that you get at Waverley station. There is a coffee kiosk in one corner and a Marks and Spencer food outlet, but I feel that they could have made more out of the original 1842 station building. It has wonderful tall windows on the upper floors and this could have been a great location for a cafe with views of both the concourse and the street, perhaps a grand cafe that stations of the steam age would have had. But, I am a romantic when it comes to such things. The main thing is that Haymarket is a station for the 21st century that services the demands of the modern railway passenger, including those with bicycles.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle. Follow my blog on Facebook: