IT is the old Victorian train station that has become the second busiest in Scotland and an Edinburgh landmark.

Set between Edinburgh's medieval Old Town and the 18th century New Town, Waverley station which opened in 1846 is seen as vital to the country’s economic success.

It is a terminus for the busiest railway in Scotland by passengers numbers - the Edinburgh to Glasgow mainline.

Now the Edinburgh station which is the northern terminus for the London to Scotland East Coast Main Line is set to undergo a major multi-million renovation as experts believe that annual passenger numbers are expected to double to over 49 million by 2048.

Options being considered include new concourses surrounding the station, a central plazza, a reinstated heritage building, revamped Waverley Bridge and a new 'iconic' feature roof.

READ MORE: New Edinburgh Waverley Mall rooftop piazza unveiled 

A team of experienced engineers, architects and urban planners, led by Edinburgh based consultants Arup, analysed the usage patterns of the existing station and came up with ideas aimed at ensuring the historic station can cope in the longer term.

Requirements included boosting passenger space to avoid crowding and congestion, improving accessibility from the Old Town, Waverley Bridge and Princes Street whilst also seeking to deliver a "modern, vibrant station" for passengers, Edinburgh and Scotland.

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Network Rail and the City of Edinburgh Council is now to launch a consultation to find out what the public think of the vision as it stands.

The Waverley Masterplan exercise will consider the future growth anticipated at the station, the impact of city centre developments, urban planning trends and how station an be enhanced to "support and encourage the future success of Scotland’s capital city and the country".

Transport secretary Michael Matheson stressed that it was "vital" not "lose sight" of Waverley's distinctive character.

“Edinburgh Waverley is the gateway to Scotland’s capital and beyond with a real historical significance within the city’s heritage. As rail grows in popularity, it is only fitting the station is enhanced in the years and decades to come thus enabling it to accommodate forecast passenger demand for cross-border, regional and commuter services," he said.

“By engaging, listening, developing and testing concepts we will be better able to deliver a future-proofed station that focuses on the passenger experience within its distinctive world-class setting.

Alex Hynes, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance - - the partnership between the train operators ScotRail and the railway infrastructure managers Network Rail Scotland - said that with passengers set to grow rapidly "doing nothing is not an option".

He said: “Waverley has seen its footfall more than double from 10 million to over 24 million within the last ten years and the latest estimates suggest that it will more than double again, to 49 million, by 2048.

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"Such a steep increase is a positive indicator of the railway’s economic influence on the city and Scotland but also a clear sign that further investment will be required. “We are creating additional rail provision within Waverley at present and will continue to seek new ways to create the best railway that Scotland has ever had. However, more trains mean more people and that inevitably adds to the pressure on station infrastructure and the surrounding streets.

“The work of the masterplan team to date suggests that some ambitious improvements to the layout of the station will be required to enable Waverley to meet the future needs of the station, the city and the country. Before a completed Waverley Masterplan is published, we are keen to listen to the views of our customers and stakeholders."

The public engagement phase of the masterplan will run from today (Monday) to Friday 26 April.

A public exhibition will be located on Waverley Station concourse for the duration, except for April 1 and 2, when it will be on display in Haymarket. A survey can be completed online, Following the completion of the public exhibition, feedback will be considered and incorporated into further development work that will ultimately result in a published masterplan in September 2019.

The plan will present a vision for the future of the station and will be used explore future development via phased investment over the next 30 years.

Lesley Macinnes, convener of the council transport and environment committee said: “Waverley Station is pivotal to our city’s public transport offering, so it’s essential that we provide a modern, accessible facility to welcome the millions of passengers passing through each year, encouraging trips by train and enabling seamless onward journeys in Edinburgh.

“With a rapidly increasing population and ever more visitors coming to the capital, it’s necessary that we rethink the way we approach transport. In the face of such pressures we need to facilitate rail travel as a reliable and efficient choice for commuters – as well as residents and visitors.

The Edinburgh Waverley masterplan follows in the footsteps of other successful joint initiatives undertaken at major city centre stations. These include London King’s Cross and London St Pancras International, London Waterloo, Leeds, Bristol Temple Meads and Birmingham New Street.

It also follows work in 2017 to extend three platforms to accommodate longer, high-capacity trains. The extension of platform 12 to accommodate eight-carriage trains on the Edinburgh to Glasgow route (via Falkirk) completed in December 2017.