Holyrood demands Network Rail cleans up Aberdeen train station

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A major railway infrastructure firm has been given an ultimatum by the Scottish Government to spruce up Aberdeen Railway Station – or face legal action.

Network Rail appealed to Holyrood to overturn an Aberdeen City Council demand that it clean up the station within four months.

The local authority told the firm it had four months from October 31 to carry out the works, which included clearing debris from the glass canopies and structures of platforms 1 to 7, removing nests and cleaning up bird droppings.

But now the Government has sided with the council.

And Don Rankin, a reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers to inspect the station, said the rail firm has six months to clean up the transport hub.

Network Rail claimed it’s not safe to walk on the glass canopies and, therefore, sections of the railway line would have to be closed to get the work done.

In its reasoning, the firm said: “Possessions of the railway (unless in an emergency situation) can only occur when no passenger or freight trains (or other rail vehicles) are programmed or timetabled to run on that section of the railway line.

“Otherwise the operation of the railway (and in this case trains running to, through or from Aberdeen) would be severely impacted.”

Network Rail also claimed it had previously been working to resolve the issues, only for the cleaning to be stopped because of nesting gulls which are protected by law.

“In spite of Network Rail advising of the challenging nature of the work, which was impacting on the speed of cleaning, it is clear from correspondence received from Aberdeen City Council that they considered that insufficient progress was being made,” said Network Rail in its appeal.

“The extent of work required by Aberdeen City Council has now been expanded to cover a significantly larger part of the station fabric, and to include works that had not previously been identified by Aberdeen City Council.”

In his decision, Mr Rankin said: “At the time of issuing the notice this accumulation of vegetation, seagull nest remains and bird droppings was clearly visible to the public observing the station roof from the surrounding streets, the adjacent four-storey multi-storey car park and from the pedestrian footbridge over the platforms which provides access to that car park.”

He added: “I conclude that the notice should be upheld but that the time for compliance should be extended to six months.”

City council finance convener Willie Young, pictured, said he was pleased with the decision.

He said: “Aberdeen City Council doesn’t take action like this lightly.

“There was good reason to give Network Rail four months to do that.

“The important issue now is that it has another two months to comply with the order otherwise we will take legal action.

“It’s important we work together to get the job done.

“It’s also important Network Rail comply with the requests from Aberdeen City Council and the Scottish Government.

“At the moment, the station is a complete eyesore so it’s good Network Rail has now got the message.”

Network Rail today declined to comment.