Rail Industry Focus

06.05.16

Bringing all of Waterloo back to life

Source: RTM Apr/May 16

RTM’s Luana Salles reports on the major programme of works taking place at London Waterloo station, including bringing the former Eurostar platforms back into use and building a new concourse.

Work in the UK’s busiest station has already kicked off as part of an extensive and ambitious three-year £800m improvement package designed to put all 24 of the platforms at London Waterloo back into use. 

The scope of planned works includes bringing the former Eurostar platforms at Waterloo International Terminal, or platforms 20-24, back to life, equipped with modern facilities, new track and signalling, and a more suitable layout. The first of these, platform 20, will be reopened in February next year. When the remaining platforms are reopened in August 2017, it will have already been a decade since they were first discontinued – with no immediate plans, at the time, for using them domestically. 

Construction works are already underway in the former terminal, which Network Rail promises will ensue with minimal disruption and no service alterations. 

Track and layout works will also be accompanied by a new “spacious, modern and accessible” concourse near the former Eurostar platforms. The concourse will start being built between September next year and December 2018, at which point platforms 21-24 will be shut once more. 

As well as providing the extra five platforms, Network Rail engineers will be extending platforms 1-4 next year to allow for 10-car trains to run on London suburban services for the first time in the busy hours. 

This will, however, come with some disruption due to the track layout. Platforms 1-8 will have to be closed for 23 days in August next year, with platforms 20-24 reopened in the meantime to help keep trains moving in spite of significant planned timetable changes. 

Between then and now, Network Rail promises to release more detailed information about the impact of major August 2017 works by late summer or early autumn this year, including full timetables and service change information. 

Biggest improvement works for decades 

The investment follows unprecedented works all around the capital’s major stations, many of which rank amongst the busiest in the country. Work at London Bridge progresses on time, for example, as part of the major Thameslink programme (p36), and improvement works are ongoing at Paddington station in the run-up to Crossrail (see more on pages 38-39). 

Works to boost capacity at Waterloo, however, are arguably needed above all else: the number of its passenger journeys, already the highest in the country, have more than doubled in the last 20 years – and Network Rail expects a 40% growth by 2043. 

Once ready, the refurbished and extended platforms are expected to increase capacity by around 30% in the peak time by 2019, just shortly after a new timetable is introduced in December 2018 featuring use of all 24 platforms. 

Network Rail’s chairman, Sir Peter Hendy, promises it will be the biggest uplift for Waterloo passengers for decades. As well as the improved facilities and tracks, the station will be served by a new fleet of 150 carriages for South West Trains passengers. These 30 Class 707s, currently being built by Siemens, are part of a £210m order that will run between London Waterloo and Windsor & Eton Riverside after entering service mid-2017. 

According to Steve Scrimshaw, Siemens’ managing director, the 5-car Desiro City units are “lighter, more energy-efficient and will significantly increase the amount of available seats for passengers”. 

With Waterloo expected to be done and dusted by early 2019, and with the entire Class 707 fleet introduced by the middle of 2018, Network Rail also promises to cascade trains to other routes to increase capacity elsewhere in the network.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

 

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