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09.10.15

Waterloo upgrades ‘vital’ and needed now – London TravelWatch

The planned upgrade work at Waterloo over the next few years is ‘vital’ otherwise services threaten to get more unreliable and station closures could become routine, London TravelWatch has warned. 

The watchdog said it is concerned that this is not the first time these issues have been raised as overcrowding is already severe at Waterloo, with demand soaring from 108 million passenger journeys a year in 1995 to 230 million in 2015. It is also expected to increase by a further 40% in the next 30 years. 

Following a presentation from South West Trains, the watchdog’s chair, Stephen Locke, said he was pleased to see the rail industry is “willing to grasp the nettle” and that plans are in place to upgrade Waterloo. 

RTM reported back in July that a planning application to enable more trains to run in and out of London Waterloo was submitted. 

The multi-million pound upgrade sponsored by Network Rail and South West Trains will bring platforms in the former Waterloo International Terminal back into use. 

Changes will include five new platforms for commuter services and a redesign of the concourse and platforms to suit over half a million daily passengers. The first part of the project will include strengthening three bridges on the approach to platforms 20-24, which will allow them to be used for domestic services, and improving the layout of tracks and platforms. 

The plans include extending platforms 1-4 to allow 10-car trains to run on the Suburban network for the first time. 

Lambeth Council granted the planning permission in mid-September, and construction work is expected to start in November 2015 and take approximately 12 months to complete. 

Tim Shoveller, managing director at South West Trains, said: “It was useful to meet London TravelWatch and discuss the challenges we face in running one of Europe’s busiest railways as well as the steps we have already taken to prepare Waterloo for redevelopment.” 

Locke reiterated, however, that passengers using the station need to be reassured that these long overdue works will now be progressed – bringing back Waterloo International platforms into regular use with an absolute minimum of delay, making sure that all platforms can handle the longest trains, and by doing work to enable more trains to run along this important corridor.

Comments

Lutz   09/10/2015 at 22:57

Perhaps just as important, if not more so, is the work required to improve the reliability and capacity of the signalling system at the top end of the SWML. There are constantly delays attributed to signalling problems anywhere between Wimbledon and Waterloo, but the planned replacement of the system was scheduled for the early 2020s. Given the lack of skilled resources in this discipline, it is questionable whether NR will be able to keep to this timetable. Instead, the signalling changes will be a patch-work of infill/modify just as is proposed for this work. What is the likelihood of this upgrade running smoothly, and what will the reliability of the line in the vicinity of Waterloo up to the completion of the signalling renewal? Very unlikely I think.

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