TAXI drivers said they were “furious and helpless” on the first day of a controversial new rank.

The old one outside Brighton Station was replaced with a new bay behind it in Stroudley Road yesterday.

Govia Thameslink Railway plans to turn the previous space into a “covered pedestrian plaza” with a café and an area for bikes.

It said the new bay is larger and allows quicker access to the A270 and A23 for journeys out of the city.

But on the new rank’s first day, city cabbies were furious.

Taxi driver Nabs Roman said: “Look, when you do a deal with a large company, you just have to take it.

“It’s all about money. They want to put new retail outlets by the old rank out front.

“And to add insult to injury, each of the cabs you see here has had to pay around £1,000 for a station permit.

“Some drivers are saying we should boycott it. I just feel helpless.”

As the new rank opened, drivers were confused by the system. Marshals in high-vis jackets were out directing them to different spots.

Some visitors at the station were also disorientated. “Where do we go now?” said one. “It’s not easy to spot,” said another.

Niti Halili has been a taxi driver for ten years.

He said: “It’s not about how I feel. My customers are not happy. The signposting for the new rank isn’t clear. New visitors don’t know where to go.

“Of course I’m upset too. But it’s because my customers are out here without a roof over their heads. And what about wheelchair access? That’s something that worries me. It takes ten minutes for us to get a wheelchair in a taxi – the wait is long enough as it is.”

Cabbie Navan Hanna was worried about being able to support her family. She said she was already seeing a drop in custom.

She said: “It’s really bad. It’s a long way to the station. I’m already seeing less business.

“It’s so sad. I’d rather sit at home and cry than wait here in my car and not make any money.”

Masih Bashirzadeh has been a taxi driver for a decade. He said: “It’s terrible.

“This is not a good place to stop, there are double yellows everywhere and it’s difficult to drop people off. There are lots of problems.

“To be honest I’m very sad. They kicked us out without any reason.”

Govia Thameslink Railway lead facilities manager Karl McCormack said: “The rank is moving because 16.5 million use the station now each year and it simply isn’t fit for purpose for the number of vehicles.”

He said they recognised the potential concern from the taxi trade and had “a new wayfinding campaign within the station to help passengers find their way to the new rank”.

He said: “With regards to claims about longer journeys being worse for people in wheelchairs – it takes only a minute longer to get to the new rank and any passenger in need of assistance will be looked after either by our dedicated customer care team or other station staff.”

He said there was a large canopy for people waiting for a cab.

He added: “We have advertised the new rank extremely clearly with vinyl floor stickers along the walking route from the ticket gates, banners on the walls of the station, fences and in the location of the old rank, new signposts, station PA announcements, posters, and messages put out on the trains as people arrive.

“We have also given taxi drivers leaflets showing the location of the new rank for each driver to give to their passengers when dropping off.”