Three platforms at the former Eurostar terminal at Waterloo station have opened for domestic services, ‘on time’ but 11 years after international services moved to St Pancras.
Platforms 20 to 22 are now in use for services to Reading, Windsor and south west London, while another two (platforms 23 and 24) are set to come into use in May next year as part of the next timetable change, Network Rail said.
The expansion is part of the £800m project to increase capacity on the South Western Railway (SWR) network, which has previously included work to extend platforms at Waterloo and nine other stations along the route, making room for longer trains.
Andy Thomas, route managing director for Network Rail’s Wessex route, said: ‘This incredible piece of engineering is all about giving better journeys to the many millions of people who travel on this route every year.
‘Thousands of our engineers and track staff have worked tirelessly over the last three years, rebuilding this iconic terminal from top to bottom. It has been an enormous job and I’m delighted to be re-opening on time.’
An aerial view of Waterloo, with the old Eurostar terminal on the left
SWR managing director Andy Mellors said: ‘Between now and May next year, we will be providing over 6,000 extra seats into our fleet to deliver more capacity for customers.
‘This is in addition to the 15,000 extra seats already provided into and from Waterloo since the franchise began last summer .’
The new terminal provides more concourse waiting space, moving people away from the main station, extra ticket barriers to reduce queueing elsewhere and new customer information screens.
In early 2019 there will also be direct access to London Underground, Network Rail said, while developer LCR will begin work next year to fit ‘a new retail, leisure and cultural destination’ underneath platforms 20 to 24.
Network Rail said the scheme, which it set to open in 2021, ‘will offer a progressive mix of independent, high street and national stores, complemented with exciting new food and drink outlets’.
The Waterloo International station was the terminal for Eurostar journeys to mainland Europe from 1994 until November 2007.