Edinburgh Waverley railway station

Edinburgh Waverley National Rail

View of Edinburgh Waverley from the east.
Place Edinburgh
Local authority City of Edinburgh
Coordinates 55°57′08″N 3°11′21″W / 55.9521°N 3.1893°W / 55.9521; -3.1893Coordinates: 55°57′08″N 3°11′21″W / 55.9521°N 3.1893°W / 55.9521; -3.1893
Grid reference NT257738
Station code EDB
Managed by Network Rail
Number of platforms 18
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2010/11 Increase 19.957 million
– Interchange  Increase 0.819 million
2011/12 Decrease 17.992 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.143 million
2012/13 Increase 18.879 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.191 million
2013/14 Increase 20.006 million
– Interchange  Decrease 1.190 million
2014/15 Increase 21.107 million
– Interchange  Increase 1.257 million
Original company Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven Railway, Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway and North British Railway
Pre-grouping North British Railway
Post-grouping LNER
22 June 1846 North Bridge built by NBR[1]
17 May 1847 General Station built by E&GR[1]
17 May 1847 Canal Street built by EL&NR[1]
April 1866 NBR demolished existing stations and replaced them with Edinburgh Waverley[1]
18 April 1966 Renamed Edinburgh by British Railways[1]
???? Renamed Edinburgh Waverley
National Rail – UK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Edinburgh Waverley from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
UK Railways portal

Edinburgh Waverley railway station,[2] often simply referred to as Waverley, or as Edinburgh,[3] is the main railway station in the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Covering an area of over 25 acres (10 ha) in the centre of the city, it is the second-largest main line railway station in the United Kingdom in terms of area, the largest being London Waterloo; and is both a terminal station and a through station, in contrast to the majority of central London stations. Ticketing generally regards Waverley and Haymarket as interchangeable subject to operator validity.

It is one of 19 stations managed by Network Rail.[4] It is the northern limit of the East Coast Main Line to Network Rail infrastructure definition, but through-services operate to Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Perth and Inverness.

There are many local services operated by ScotRail, including the four routes to Glasgow, the Fife Circle, and services to Stirling/Dunblane/Alloa/North Berwick/Dunbar, and the station is the terminus of the Edinburgh leg of the West Coast Main Line served by Virgin Trains and TransPennine Express. Long distance inter-city trains to England are operated by CrossCountry to destinations such as York, Leeds, Sheffield, Derby, Birmingham New Street, Bristol Temple Meads, Exeter St Davids and Plymouth.


View from Scott Monument of Waverley Station roof, prior to restoration, between Waverley Bridge (bottom right) and North Bridge, and Arthur's Seat in the background

Waverley station is situated in a steep, narrow valley between the medieval Old Town and the 18th century New Town.

Princes Street, the premier shopping street, runs close to its north side. The valley is bridged by the North Bridge, rebuilt in 1897 as a three-span iron and steel bridge, on huge sandstone piers. This passes high above the station's central section, directly over the central booking hall (which cleverly hides one of the main stone piers within its bulk). Waverley Bridge lies to the west side of the station (though platforms extend below it) and it is this road which, by means of ramps, formerly afforded vehicular access to the station and still provides two of the six pedestrian entrances to the station. The valley to the west, formerly the site of the Nor Loch, is the public parkland of Princes Street Gardens.


Location of Waverley and (former) lines emanating from the station

Edinburgh's Old Town, perched on a steep-sided sloping ridge, was bounded on the north by a valley in which the Nor Loch had been formed. In the 1750s overcrowding led to proposals to link across this valley to allow development to the north. The "noxious lake" was to be narrowed into "a canal of running water", with a bridge formed across the east end of the loch adjacent to the physic garden. This link was built from 1766 as the North Bridge and at the same time plans for the New Town began development to the north, with Princes Street to get unobstructed views south over sloping gardens and the proposed canal. The loch was drained as work on the bridge proceeded. In 1770 a coachbuilder began work on properties feued at the corner between the bridge and Princes Street, and feuers on the other side of the street strongly objected to this construction blocking their views to the south. A series of court cases ended with the decision that the buildings nearing completion could stay, immediately to the west of that some workshops would be allowed below the level of Princes Street, and further west a park would be "kept and preserved in perpetuity as pleasure ground" in what became Princes Street Gardens.[5]

In the mid 1830s proposals for a railway from Glasgow running along the gardens to a station at the North Bridge were set out in a prospectus with assurances that the trains would be concealed from view, and smoke from them "would scarcely be seen". An association of "Princes Street Proprietors" who had feued houses in the street, and had spent large sums turning the "filthy and offensive bog" of the Nor Loch into quiet gardens, strongly opposed the railway and in late 1836 put forward their case against the Act of Parliament for the railway. The Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway opened in 1842 with its terminus at Haymarket railway station, stopping short of Princes Street. In the Railway Mania of the 1840s, the railway sought another Act of Parliament allowing access along the gardens, and at the same time two other railways proposed terminus stations at the North Bridge site. By then several of the Princes Street properties were shops or hotels with an interest in development, and agreement was reached in 1844 on walls and embankments to conceal the Edinburgh and Glasgow railway line in a cutting, with compensation of almost £2,000 for the proprietors.[6]

The North Bridge station was opened on 22 June 1846 by the North British Railway as the terminus for its line from Berwick-upon-Tweed. The Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway's General station opened on 17 May 1847, on the same day as the Canal Street station of the Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven Railway, serving Leith and Granton via a long rope-hauled tunnel under the New Town. The collective name "Waverley", after the Waverley Novels by Sir Walter Scott, was used for the three from around 1854 when the through 'Waverley' route to Carlisle opened. Canal Street station was also known as Edinburgh Princes Street,[1] not to be confused with the Caledonian Railway railway station later built at the West End which was named Princes Street station from 1870.

In 1868 the North British Railway acquired the stations of its rivals, demolished all three, and closed the Scotland Street tunnel to Canal Street. The present Victorian station was built on the site, and extended in the late 19th century. Waverley has been in continual use since, under the auspices of the North British, the LNER, British Railways (rebranded as British Rail after 1965), Railtrack and latterly Network Rail. From its opening in its current form by the eastward tunnelled extension from Haymarket, Waverley has been the principal railway station in Edinburgh. From 1870 to 1965 the city had a second major station, Princes Street, operated by the rival Caledonian Railway, but this was never as important as Waverley.

Former North British Hotel above the station

As at other large railway stations of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, the railway company constructed a grand station hotel beside their station. The North British Hotel, adjacent to the station at the corner between Princes Street and North Bridge (on the site of the coachworks[5]) opened in 1902. In 1983 British Rail sold it to the Forte hotel group. In 1988 Forte closed the hotel for a year to extensively remodel and update what had become something of a faded jewel. When it reopened it was rechristened The New Balmoral Hotel, maintaining the "NB" initials in what has proved to be an astute marketing move, despite the hotel being 115 miles (185 km) from Balmoral Castle. Subsequently, "New" was dropped from the name. The hotel enjoys commanding views over central Edinburgh and is one of the most luxurious (and expensive) hotels in the UK. There is no longer a direct entrance from the station.

Aberdeen express leaving Edinburgh Waverley in 1957

British Rail brought railway electrification in 1991 with electric trains on the East Coast Main Line to Glasgow Central and via York to London King's Cross.

The station's large size and the unusual topography of its surroundings mean that it contains a large amount of valuable centrally located land. The station's successive owners, British Rail, Railtrack and its current owner Network Rail have been unfairly criticised for underusing the valuable city-centre spaces available within, there being a legal covenant preventing any upwards extension, which would obstruct the view of Arthur's Seat from Princes Street. The elevated walkway linking the Waverley Steps (from Princes Street to Market Street) has been upgraded with the recommissioning of the suburban platforms (at the south) and provision of additional through platforms to the north to serve the increased proportion of through rail traffic.

Princes Mall (formerly the Waverley Shopping Centre), which occupies a column of space (formerly Waverley Market, a live cattle market) nestling between Waverley Station, Waverley Bridge, and Princes Street, opened in 1985. This mall has benefited from the installation of escalators on the Waverley Steps to Princes Street in 2011.

Recent developments

During 2006 and 2007 parts of Waverley were extensively refurbished, including two new through platforms and the electrification of Platforms 12 to 18 in preparation for electric trains from the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link and future lines in Scotland to be electrified by the current (2012) EGIP (Edinburgh/Glasgow Improvement Project).[7]

From 2010 to 2012, the glazing of the roof of Waverley station was entirely replaced with new strengthened clear glass panels, replacing the old 34,000 m2 of mixed surfaces including felt, cloudy wired glass and plastic sheet. Part of a £130 million upgrade, this has greatly increased the amount of natural light in the station.[8][9][10]

From 2012 to 2014 improvements included: a new set of covered escalators leading to Princes Street (replacing the huge set of previously wind-swept steps); a rebuilt and widened entrance from Market Street; a rebuilding of the canopies on the southern "suburban line"; a restoration of the central space in the ticket hall; and major improvements to the Calton Road access. Internally several new lifts and escalators have greatly aided circulation.[11]


Waverley concourse at night, 2011
The booking hall at Waverley station, prior to restoration

Trains leave Waverley in two directions:

Winter 2007

On 11 December 2007, First TransPennine Express commenced services between Edinburgh Waverley and Manchester Airport via Manchester Piccadilly, Preston and the West Coast Main Line replacing Virgin CrossCountry services.

Winter 2008

On 14 December 2008, Virgin Trains withdrew its daily Edinburgh Waverley to London Euston service and First ScotRail Newcraighall trains ceased to continue onto the Bathgate Line and were extended to the Fife Circle Line instead, in anticipation of the electrification of the Bathgate services (Airdrie-Bathgate Project, completed 2010) and implementation of the Borders rail project to Tweedbank which commenced services there in September 2015.

Winter 2013

From 8 December 2013, Virgin Trains introduced regular links to London Euston with the combination of the existing two-hourly WCML service to Birmingham New Street via Preston with the Wolverhampton to Euston service.

Routes – past and present

Preceding station National Rail Following station
Newcastle   Virgin Trains East Coast
Flying Scotsman/London-Edinburgh (fast)
Dunbar or
  Virgin Trains East Coast
London-Edinburgh semi-fast
Berwick-upon-Tweed   Virgin Trains East Coast
London-Edinburgh/Scotland express services
  Haymarket or
Terminus   TransPennine Express
(TransPennine North West)
Dunbar   CrossCountry
Cross Country Network
Terminus   Virgin Trains
West Coast Main Line
Terminus   Abellio ScotRail
Glasgow to Edinburgh via Falkirk Line
Terminus   Abellio ScotRail
North Clyde Line
Terminus   Abellio ScotRail
Borders Railway
Terminus   Abellio ScotRail
Edinburgh to Dunblane Line
Brunstane   Abellio ScotRail
Fife Circle Line
Terminus   Abellio ScotRail
Shotts Line
Musselburgh   Abellio ScotRail
North Berwick Line
Musselburgh   Abellio ScotRail
Edinburgh to Dunbar
Terminus   Caledonian Sleeper
Lowland Caledonian Sleeper
Glasgow Queen Street   Caledonian Sleeper
Highland Caledonian Sleeper
Falkirk Grahamston
southbound only
no pick-up/setdown
  Caledonian Sleeper
Highland Caledonian Sleeper
Inverness to London
no pick-up/setdown
  Caledonian Sleeper
Highland Caledonian Sleeper
Preston   Caledonian Sleeper
Highland Caledonian Sleeper
London to Inverness
northbound only
no pick-up/setdown
Historical railways
Jocks Lodge   North British Railway
NBR Main Line
Abbeyhill   North British Railway
Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven Railway
Scotland Street   North British Railway
Edinburgh, Leith and Newhaven Railway
Terminus   North British Railway
Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway


In May 2016 ORR gave the green light to a new operator called East Coast Trains which would operate services to Edinburgh Waverley via Stevenage, Newcastle & Morpeth. The service would begin operation in 2021.[12][13][14]


A total of 24 platforms have existed at Waverley, but not more than 21 at any one time. Prior to incremental rationalisation of the east end in the 1960s–80s there were 21 platforms. The main station was effectively a large 'island' with through lines on the outside, and terminating platforms at both ends in between. In December 2006, a partial renumbering of platforms took place to reflect the construction of three new platforms.

At the north side of the station is the former Up Main through platforms, a very long platform with the tracks having a crossover to a parallel line in the centre, numbered 19 (west end) and 2 (formerly 1) (east end).

The east end terminating platforms have undergone significant rationalisation. From north to south these comprised:

The former Down Main through Platforms 7 (east end) and 8 (west end) are at the south side of the main station, and comprise a single very long platform with a crossover in the centre. They are numbered 7 (formerly 10, east end) and 11 (west end).

At the west end there has been little change to the terminating platforms, apart from widening them by removing disused centre-road tracks. The platforms comprise (south-north) numbers 12/13, 14/15, 16/17 and bay Platform 18. These were not affected by the 2006 platform renumbering scheme.

The only platforms outwith Waverley's overall roof are the former 'Suburban' Platforms 8 and 9 (formerly 21 and 20), a lengthy island platform. These are on the southern edge of the station, adjacent to the east to the former freight depot (now a car park and offices) and with direct access to Market Street, which runs parallel to the railway to the immediate south.

A need to increase capacity for through and west-end traffic led to three new platforms being built in 2006, on land formerly occupied by disused sidings and bypass lines within the main part of the station. Platform 10 is a through platform at the west end, facing Platform 11. Platforms 1 and 20 are a single long through platform facing Platforms 2 and 19. All are linked by the upgraded north-south overhead walkway linking the Waverley Steps (escalators) to Market Street.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Butt (1995), page 89
  2. Network Rail: Our Stations – Edinburgh Waverley 27 August 2013
  3. Edinburgh | Scotrail 14 June 2015
  4. "Commercial information" (PDF). Complete National Rail Timetable. London: Network Rail. May 2013. p. 43. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  5. 1 2 Youngson, A.J. (1966), The Making of Classical Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, pp. 12–14, 86–90
  6. Youngson, A.J. (1966), The Making of Classical Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, pp. 275–278
  7. "Edinburgh Waverley Train Station". EdinburghGuide.com. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  8. edg (13 January 2010). "New Roof For Waverley Station Moves Step Closer". EdinburghGuide.com. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  9. "Edinburgh Waverley". Network Rail. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  10. Dalton, Alastair (15 April 2009). "Stronger Waverley roof will save public from bridge jumpers". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.
  11. edg (28 September 2009). "Work Starts on £130m Refurbishment for Edinburgh Waverley". EdinburghGuide.com. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  12. Applications for the East Coast Main Line Office of Rail and Road 12 May 2016
  13. First Group to run Edinburgh to London budget rail service BBC News 12 May 2016
  14. VTEC and FirstGroup granted East Coast Main Line paths Railway Gazette International 12 May 2016
  15. "Taxi ban starts at Edinburgh". Rail News, June 2014, p.8.
  16. Edinburgh Waverley Station: Two new platforms to replace taxi ranks BBC News 22 August 2014


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