Waterloo station to re-open Eurostar platforms after 10-year gap

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The Evening Standard

The old Eurostar platforms at Waterloo station are being brought back into use for the first time in a decade to help ease severe disruption during a major upgrade starting this weekend.

The five platforms will be used for three weeks, between Saturday and August 28, before being shut again until December 2018, when the £800 million station revamp is due for completion. 

Platforms 20-24 have been disused since Eurostar services moved to St Pancras in 2007. Three services run by South West Trains, with passengers, will be used to test them this week.

Becky Lumlock, route managing director at Network Rail, said: “This is an incredibly exciting milestone for everyone involved in delivering the Waterloo and South West upgrade.”

The upgrade, which began in March last year, involves shutting platforms 1-10 this month to allow platforms 1-4 to be extended to accommodate longer suburban trains. It will increase capacity at Waterloo by 30 per cent.

South West Trains warned passengers boarding at suburban stations to expect long queues due to 40 per cent fewer trains and measures to prevent overcrowding. Passengers are urged to work from home or avoid peak hours. Network Rail plans to confine further platform closures to the weekends.

The “ghost” terminal’s platforms have been used for special events, including a theatre production of The Railway Children, complete with a steam train, for two months in 2010. The Standard has revealed that it cost about £2 million a year to keep them mothballed.

Network Rail said considerable work was needed to convert the Eurostar station. Stewart Firth, head of route sponsorship, said it had been built as an “international port”.

“The trains were incredibly long and quite infrequent — only six an hour,” he said. “To turn that into a commuter facility capable of accepting high-frequency services has required considerable project management and time, and not least funding.”

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