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Anger at London Midland's £1.3m revamp on Watford Junction station
Taxi drivers have warned rush hour chaos caused by ranking changes at Watford Junction station could lead to someone being seriously injured or killed.
The warning has been made as London Midland trains carries out a £1.3m refurbishment of the station, which will see the forecourt turned into a pedestrianised area.
The redevelopment means the station’s busy taxi rank has been moved from the forecourt and placed either side of the access road into the station’s car park.
Shafiq Ahmed, the chairman of the Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, said the result was a dangerous scrum of taxis, cars and pedestrians when the station was in peak use. He said taxis were also caught in tail-to-bumper congestion at peak times leading to frustration from drivers and passengers alike.
He said: "The whole thing looks like it has been designed by a child - there is no long-term view. Many passengers have told us they were happy with the previous forecourt area.
"We are concerned about the health and safety. Someone is going to die here or be severely injured as when it is peak time people do not know what’s going on."
Originally taxis had ranked separately from the access road on the forecourt of the station, which is currently being turned into a seating and bike storage area for train passengers.
The new arrangement involves taxis ranking down the entrance lane of the access road and then driving into the car park to turn around and rank on the exit lane to collect customers.
The criticism of the new system has arisen months after politicians and taxi drivers warned London Midland that the plan would create a dangerous situation at the station.
Steve Rackett, a Green councillor for the Callowlands area, raised serious concerns about London Midland’s plans to move the taxi rank into the access road.
However he said the company had ignored his and taxi drivers' concerns and branded its behaviour as "completely arrogant", adding that London Midland should lose its right to run the train line.
Councillor Rackett said: "We told them it would be dangerous and they didn’t care. London Midland has behaved in a completely arrogant way and didn’t seem to be concerned about customer safety.
"It has become incredibly dangerous.
"These are transitional arrangements but there appears to be no safety consideration, which you would expect a public undertaking to include.
"Should people and the Department of Transport ask whether they are the right company to operate this franchise?
"I have to say I don’t think they are the right type of company to run a public service."
The Watford Observer contacted London Midland for a statement but no one from the company was available to comment.
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