Travel and transportation
This information has been provided to assist with your travel plans to and around Edinburgh. Please click the link below to be taken to the information you need.
Getting to Edinburgh and the EICC
Travelling to Edinburgh from London
Exiting Edinburgh Airport
Glasgow to Edinburgh
Walking to the EICC from the city centre
Blue Badge Scheme
Getting to Edinburgh and the EICC
To facilitate your transport around the city, teams of Shaw Trust volunteers will be placed at key travel hubs in Edinburgh, to answer your questions and offer assistance where required.
Travelling to Edinburgh from London
This section provides basic transport information for those attendees flying into London before making the journey up to Edinburgh.
Travelling to Edinburgh by train (journey time: 4-5 hours)
Virgin East Coast runs the main line between London and Edinburgh, with trains leaving roughly every 30 minutes connecting London Kings Cross Station with Edinburgh Waverley. London Kings Cross Station is the main train station in London and is extremely well connected. It features on 6 London tube lines, so getting to the station from around London should be fairly simple. If booked far enough in advance an average single economy ticket will cost around £50, however if booked on the day, tickets can cost as much as £150.
For more information on trains from London to Edinburgh use the Virgin East Coast link below (opens in a new window): https://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/our-destinations/trains-to-edinburgh/
For more information on rail travel in the UK, use this link (opens in a new window): https://www.thetrainline.com/
Getting to Edinburgh by plane (journey time: 1-2 hours)
There are five airports in London: London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton and London Stansted, all of which offer direct flights to Edinburgh. Looking at a map of London will give you an idea of which airport would be most suitable for you. Return tickets booked a month in advance can be as cheap as £30; however the typical price of a return ticket is £50 - £60 with budget airlines and roughly double that for luxury airlines if booked in advance.
Please note: British Airways is the only carrier from London Heathrow.
Flights from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City to Edinburgh are very frequent (every 1-2 hours), with London Luton offering four flights to Edinburgh per day.
Skyscanner is an excellent tool for comparing flight prices from London to Edinburgh (link opens in a new window): http://www.skyscanner.net/
Getting to Edinburgh by bus (journey time: 8-10 hours)
It is possible to travel from London to Edinburgh by bus. The average price of a ticket is between £5 and £20 if booked a month in advance. There is usually one bus journey available each day.
Tickets should be booked using the Megabus website (opens in a new window): http://uk.megabus.com/
There are direct flights from around 130 domestic and international destinations, including London, Paris CDG, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul and New York. More than 40 airlines operate into Edinburgh Airport, including easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways, Flybe, KLM, Aer Lingus, Norwegian, Lufthansa, Air France, United Airlines, Qatar Airways, SAS, Brussels Air, Turkish Airlines, Etihad and American Airlines. A full list of destinations and airlines can be accessed via the linked page of the Edinburgh Airport website (opens in new window).
The airport is equipped with induction loops, and special assistance is available to both arriving and departing customers, if requested in advance. In order to book special assistance for your journey, you should advise your travel agent at the time of booking or contact your airline at least 48 hours before your flight to advise them you will require assistance when travelling. Please pre-book assistance with as much notice as possible to ensure that your requirements can be met without delaying you.
More information on accessibility at the airport is available from the Edinburgh Airport special assistance page (opens in new window).
Each airline has its own policy on accessibility for persons with reduced mobility, and delegates should consult them before booking. However, for most airlines the following points are common:
- If you use an electric mobility aid such as an electric wheelchair or scooter, you will need to give the airline some information in advance about the equipment, including its make and model. This is to ensure that it is loaded and stowed safely during the flight and is not a fire risk. Check with individual airlines, as each apply different restrictions. You will be able to remain in your electric mobility aid until you reach the aircraft.
- There are easier-to-access seats available on board in which passengers with reduced mobility can be accommodated.
- Most airlines will allow approved assistance dogs to travel with you in the cabin providing that the requirements of the EU pet travel scheme are fully met. Note that there may be restrictions on the length of flight taken. If you wish to travel with an assistance dog, you must notify the airline at the time of booking. You should also email the Border Inspection Post at least two working days before your arrival to arrange for your dog to be met and checked on arrival. If your assistance dog doesn’t comply with the rules, it may not be able to enter Great Britain, or may be licensed into quarantine on arrival. For more information, or queries regarding travelling with your assistance dog, please visit the Extrordinair website (opens in new window) or contact them directly by telephone on +44 (0) 131 317 7277 or send them an email. Edinburgh Airport has a designated area for assistance dogs to relieve themselves. For more information visit the Edinburgh Airport website Special Assistance web page (opens in new window).
Exiting Edinburgh Airport
A map of the airport and the routes to the various means of public transport is available from the linked page of the Edinburgh Airport website (opens in new window).
Buses: Leaving the airport by the main exit door (the one nearest to domestic arrivals) turn right along the pavement, a few meters to access the Airlink 100. The stop for the number 35 bus is a little further along. You can buy discounted Airlink bus tickets in advance by visiting the Advanced Ticketing website (opens in new window).
Trams: Follow the signs to the trams. Alternatively, leaving the exit door by domestic arrivals, continue straight ahead and across the plaza for about 220 metres, where you will find the tram stop.
Taxis: Follow the signs to the taxi rank. Alternatively, leaving by the exit door by domestic arrivals, go straight ahead about 120 meters and cross the road by the pedestrian crossing – into the ground floor of the multi-storey car park. There is a taxi rank for black cabs and an office where a saloon-type car/people carrier may be hired. There is however no pavement for most of the rank which means that boarding ramps may need to be adjusted to a more acute angle than normal.
The 100 Airport Express bus can ‘kneel’ and produce a ramp to enable easier access. There is room to carry one wheelchair (dimension 70x120x135cm, normally no more than 300Kg in weight). It is equipped with audio-visual stop announcements.
The bus departs Edinburgh Airport every 30 minutes and takes approximately 20 minutes to get to Haymarket, where we suggest passengers alight if they wish to proceed on foot to the EICC. From here it is approximately 500m, up a slight incline, to the EICC building. For journeys from the airport to the main hotels being used for the Congress, see the directions available on the accommodation booking site (opens in new window).
Some hotels are near the route of the number 35 bus which also departs from the airport but takes a very long route into the centre of town and to Leith. Like all Lothian Buses, it can accommodate a wheelchair, but it lacks audio/visual stop announcements.
For delegates parking at the NCP St James’ Centre car park in the city centre, bus number 10 south-bound to Torphin/Bonaly has the same audio-visual facilities. From this bus, you should alight at the Usher Hall in Lothian Road, which is about 500m from the EICC.
All Lothian Buses can kneel and accommodate wheelchairs.
More information on bus accessibility can be found on the Lothian Busses website (opens in new window).
Live information, and an alarm to alert users when they are approaching their desired stop, is available on the Transport for Edinburgh app, which can be downloaded for iOS devices from the iTunes store (opens in new window). and for Android devices from the Google Play store (opens in new window).
Lothian buses can be contacted directly via their online contact form (opens in new window) or by phone on +44 (0)131 554 4494 (Monday to Friday, 08:30-17:00 GMT).
Trams link the airport, and the Ingliston Park and Ride, with Haymarket. In the other direction they stop at York Place near to the NCP St James’ Centre car park. From the airport to Haymarket takes about 30 minutes; and from York Place to Haymarket takes 12 minutes.
All trams have flat access and audio-visual announcements. At tram stops there is highly visible live information. In the middle of the tram there are two spaces for 70x120x135cm wheelchairs. Note: Although at the time of writing (March 2016) there is a trial allowing Class 2 mobility scooters on trams, there is no guarantee that they will be permitted in October.
More information on accessibility can be found on the Edinburgh Trams website (opens in new window). Live information can also be accessed on the Transport for Edinburgh app mentioned above.
Edinburgh Trams can be contacted directly via their online contact form (opens in new window), or on +44 (0)131 475 0177 (Monday to Friday, 08:30-17:00 GMT.
There are three taxi firms in Edinburgh:
- Central Taxis (opens in new window). Phone number: +44 (0)131 229 2468. App available on both iTunes and Google Play, just type: Central Taxis.
- City Cabs (opens in new window). Phone number: +44 (0)131 228 1211. App available on iTunes and Google Play, just type: City Cabs.
- Computer Cabs (opens in new window). Phone number: +44 (0)131 272 8000. App available on iTunes and Google Play, just type: ComCab Edinburgh.
These taxis occupy taxi ranks, can be hailed on the street, or can be booked over the phone or via mobile app. All three firms take bookings 24/7 and have a majority of London Taxis in their fleets, which are wheelchair accessible.
When travelling from Edinburgh Airport: you can pre-book a taxi with any of the above providers who can arrange to meet you coming off your flight, at luggage reclaim or at the pre-booked pick up point in the airport depending on your preference and the level of assistance you require. There is a taxi rank at the airport if you do not wish to pre-book but you may experience longer waiting times depending on your time of arrival. Edinburgh City Private Hire (opens in new window), also provide travel from the airport to the city and can also accommodate smaller wheelchairs, however they do require that you pre-book for your journey.
When travelling around the city: you can pre-book a taxi with any of the above providers using their website, phone number or mobile app or hail an available taxi (indicated by the yellow light on the roof of the taxi being switched on) from the streets or a taxi rank. You can download a list of licensed taxi ranks in Edinburgh from the linked page of the City of Edinburgh Council website (opens in new window).
Specifications: for wheelchair users there are about 900 accessible taxis in Edinburgh, mostly of the following types:
Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxi (opens in new window as PDF)
Door width: (bottom): 32 inch, 81.28cm (top): 34 inch/86.36cm; height 48 inch/121.92cm
Distance between seats: 46 inch/116.84cm
Pull out solid ramp (for a maximum 300kg weight)
Peugeot E7 Taxi
(opens in new window as PDF)
Door width: (bottom): 34 inch/86.36cm, (top): 37 inch/93.98cm; height 48 inch/121.92cm
Distance between seats: 45 inch/114.3cm
Pull out solid ramp (for a maximum 300kg weight)
A demonstration of the Peugeot E7 can be viewed at the linked page on YouTube (opens in new window).
These should able to accommodate about 85% of wheelchairs. For those who specifically require a large wheelchair and who cannot use other public transport services, there is a small specialist taxi firm called Handicabs (opens in new window). Their vehicles can accommodate all categories of wheelchairs and scooters. Passengers wishing to use their booking facility must register with them and book several days in advance.
Glasgow is Scotland’s other major airport. Direct flights include Dubai, Canada (e.g. Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Halifax, Vancouver) and the US (e.g. Philadelphia). Indirect flights include Australia (Melbourne, Sydney), Beijing, Hong Kong, Delhi and Johannesburg. Airlines include BA, Air Canada, Air France, KLM, Emirates, and American Airlines. A full list can be viewed at the Glasgow Airport destinations page (opens in new window).
Glasgow offers similar facilities for passengers with reduced mobility as Edinburgh, and we would recommend booking assistance through the airline when confirming flights. Maps of the terminal building are available at the Glasgow Airport passenger information page (opens in new window).
Glasgow to Edinburgh
From the airport there are buses to the centre of Glasgow which can usually accommodate one wheelchair on board. For more information visit the Glasgow Airport onward travel page (opens in new window).
From the centre of Glasgow passengers can either take a train to Edinburgh from Glasgow Queen Street station, or get another bus to Edinburgh from Buchanan Street bus station. Delegates can view their different options at Traveline Scotland (opens in new window).
A short taxi ride away from Glasgow Airport is Paisley Gilmour Street rail station (opens in new window), which has eight train services an hour to Glasgow Central station, which connects rail services to Edinburgh, although most of these services take longer to get to Edinburgh as they call at several stations beforehand.
Alternatively, passengers can walk or take a bus from Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen Street station, which has four services to Edinburgh every hour. Text descriptions are available from the Describe Online website for Glasgow Central and Glasgow Queen Street (links open in new window).
Whether travelling by bus or train, we advise getting in touch with the transport provider as soon as possible before your arrival.
Trains in Edinburgh
There are two main train stations in Edinburgh: Waverley and Haymarket. Waverley is the biggest and busiest station with many entrances and therefore delegates are advised to use it only if necessary. In addition there will be major construction work at the station during the Congress.
The vast majority of trains that pass through Waverley also pass through Haymarket.
There will be some dedicated volunteers to assist delegates, based on the main concourse outside the pharmacy called Boots.
Visit the National Rail website to view a plan of Waverley station (opens in new window).
Located about 500 meters from the EICC, Haymarket is a smaller station, but almost all trains into Edinburgh stop there. It consists of five parallel platforms, each with level access and a lift to the concourse. The concourse is well-lit, but the platforms can be dimly lit.
On most of the trains in operation between Glasgow and Edinburgh, two wheelchairs can be accommodated for every three carriages. However, as train types can vary it is important to contact the train operating company (e.g. ScotRail) in advance to enquire about access to the train, ensure your assistance is organised in advance and staff are on hand with a portable ramp to assist with boarding.
Trains from London Kings Cross are operated by Virgin Trains East Coast; they can accommodate one wheelchair in Standard Class, and one in First Class. Standard dimensions of acceptable wheelchairs are Width 70cm, Length 120cm and Height 135cm and combined weight of less than 300kg.
Passengers should contact the train company they are travelling with to check the accessibility of the specific trains they intend to board:
ScotRail Accessible Travel
Calls are free of charge, available 7 days a week from 07:00 to 22:00.
+44 (0)800 912 2 901
18001 0800 912 2901 (text phone)
Virgin Trains East Coast
Monday to Saturday 08:00 to 20:00, Sunday 10:00 to 20:00
+44 (0)3457 225 225
18001 03457 225 225 (text phone)
+44 (0)371 244 2389
+44 (0)844 811 0126 (text phone)
0800 107 2149
0800 107 2061 (minicom service)
It is possible via the ScotRail website to book assistance online (opens in new window) at ScotRail-managed stations, provided notice is given at least 24 hrs before arrival at the station.
Mobility scooters are accepted on ScotRail services if they meet the following criteria:
- They do not exceed 104cm in length, and 56cm in width
- The combined weight does not exceed 300kg
- There is no canopy or rear basket
Walking to the EICC from the city centre
More information on walking the route is offered on the Describe Online entry for the EICC (opens in new window).
From Haymarket (distance about 500m)
Leaving the station head eastwards, past Starbucks and Ryrie’s Bar. Cross the road on the right, before then crossing back towards the left, heading towards a large monument with a clock face. Turn right up the road that slopes upward (Morrison Street), staying on the left hand side pavement. This takes the delegate towards the EICC, with the venue on the left. The right-hand side is narrower, lacks dropped kerbs in places and lacks an adequate pedestrian crossing at one point. Pedestrians should be aware of some cracks in the paving and tactile blister surfaces.
From Lothian Road (distance about 500m from Usher Hall)
Lothian Road is a main road with wide, even pavements. We suggest that delegates on a bus from York Place, or walking from the NCP Car Park, travel by taxi or via bus no.10 to the Lothian Road and go up as far as the Usher Hall (a grand concert/theatre venue, set back from the road). They should cross the road at the traffic lights at a café called Nando’s. They should then continue up Lothian Road and turn right at the crossing into Morrison Street. From Morrison Street, the EICC is about 200m down on the right hand side. There may be an issue with a kerb at a side road and the pavement is slightly narrow, with many cracks.
Mobility Scooter and Wheelchair Hire
It is possible to hire a range of mobility vehicles. They tend to charge a flat rate for 0-7 days. A sample of contacts include:
Mobility Equipment Hire Direct Ltd (opens in new window)
Lothian Shopmobility, The Mound Centre, Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 2EL. Telephone number: +44 (0)131 225 9559.
Near Haymarket there is a cycle path to the west of the city. Edinburgh has over 75km of off-road tarmac paths which cyclists may use, called the Inner Tube. More info can be found by via the Edinburgh Innertube map (opens in new window).
There is no public cycle hire scheme in Edinburgh but there a number of shops that hire out bikes. Prices vary from £12-£20 per day. More information available via the Cycling Edinburgh website (opens in new window).
During peak times cycles are permitted in bus lanes. However, they must not pass a bus on the inside/left.
There is no parking at the EICC, however the following car parks and park and ride schemes are either nearby, or have good transport links to the venue.
Sheraton Grand Hotel Car park
Address: Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa, 1 Festival Square, Edinburgh, EH3 9SR. Access from Western Approach Road. Telephone: +44 (0)131 229 9131.
Distance from EICC: 300 metres (approx. 4 minutes’ walk along Ladywell and the B700 road).
This car park is open 24 hours and has 120 spaces, including an unspecified number of disabled bays. Call in advance to find out about availability.
NCP Castle Terrace
Address: Castle Terrace, Edinburgh, EH1 2EW. Telephone: +44 (0)345 050 7080.
Distance from EICC: approx. 650 metres (7-8 minutes’ walk via Lothian Road and Morrison Street).
This large, unmanned car park is open 24 hours and has 750 spaces, including six disabled bays. NCP allow customers to book in advance online.
Address: 124 Dundee Street, Edinburgh, EH11 1AF.
Distance from EICC: approx. 950 metres (12-14 minute walk via Semple Street). The bus no. 34 northbound to Leith can take you from outside Fountain Park and a couple of stops before walking the remainder of Semple Street.
This underground car park is attached to an entertainment complex and has over 500 spaces, 26 of which are disabled bays.
NCP St James’ Centre
Address: 2a Leith Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3JP. Telephone: +44 (0)345 050 7080.
Distance from EICC: 2.9km (probably too far to walk). From York Place you can take the tram or 26 bus to Haymarket Station. From there it would be along the A8 and B700 roads. Or take bus numbers 11, 10, 16 to Lothian Road then a similar walking route to Castle Terrace. The number 10 bus has audio-visual stop description.
These two car parks in the heart of Edinburgh are unmanned but open 24 hrs. Between them they have 500 spaces and 12 disabled bays.
Hermiston Park and Ride
Address: Riccarton Mains Road, Currie, Edinburgh EH14 5PX.
Distance from the EICC: 8.5km. The bus X25 to the Exchange will take delegates to the EICC. However watch for diversions due to security, etc.
This Council-operated park and ride scheme is open 24 hours, and staffed Monday-Friday 07:30-18:30. There are 450 spaces and 22 disabled bays.
Ingliston Park and Ride (near airport)
Address: 2 Eastfield Road, Newbridge, Edinburgh, EH28 8LS. Telephone: +44 (0)131 554 4494.
Distance from EICC: 9.8km. Either take the number 35 bus to Fountainbridge then follow the 7-10 minute Semple Street walk; or take the tram to Haymarket station, which is significantly quicker.
This Park and Ride has 1,000 spaces, and 46 disabled bays. It is in effect open 24 hours. A small number of disabled bays look right on to the tram stop, which is at a corner of the car park. To get to Haymarket users will have to cross the tracks where the kerb is lowered although there is no specific tactile surface to denote the crossing point.
Blue Badge scheme
If you're a driver or a passenger and you have mobility issues, you may be eligible for a Blue Badge.
Where you can park with a Blue Badge
With a Blue Badge you can park free of charge and without time limit on street in Edinburgh:
- In public and shared on-street parking bays
- On single or double yellow lines when loading is allowed (provided it’s not a dangerous section of the road)
- In greenways parking places when parking is allowed
- In accessible parking spaces, commonly referred to as “disabled parking bays.”
You should not park:
- In bus lanes during the hours of operation
- In cycle lanes
- On single or double red lines during the hours of operation or in a dangerous section of the road
- On zig-zag pedestrian crossings at school entrances
- In bus stops
- In parking spaces for residents, motorcycles and city car club users
- In suspended parking bays
- Any place where traffic or emergency vehicles might be held up
- At dropped kerbs
- In public parking places on main traffic routes when loading is prohibited.
Visitors from outside the European Union can apply for Blue Badge status for the duration of their visit. They should contact the City of Edinburgh Council with as much notice as possible via their Request a Blue Badge webpage (opens in new window).
There is normally Blue Badge parking on Morrison Street close to the EICC but this may be disrupted for security reasons during the Congress.
For emergencies or matters which require an immediate response from the medical services, police or fire brigade phone 999.
For medical information and for advice concerning a medical complaint which does not seem to require emergency attention phone NHS 24 on 111.
To request a police response to chronic, minor criminal activity call 101.
The following websites have information on accessibility and may be of interest to delegates:
VisitScotland Accessible Accommodation and Activities (opens in new window).
Euan’s Guide (opens in new window): accessibility reviews of venues, often conducted by disabled people.
Edinburgh Access Panel (opens in new window): news and advice on accessibility issues in Edinburgh.
This project/work has been undertaken with the support of SCVO’s Business Growth Graduate Internship programme funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Scottish Government and Creative Scotland.