A passenger train has used an international platform at Waterloo station for the first time since the last European service left more than five years ago.
The journey into the Waterloo International Terminal was made to mark
the first anniversary of the Network Rail and South West Trains
Alliance and to provide an opportunity to illustrate the alliance's
commitment to provide extra capacity into the country's busiest station.
Tim Shoveller, managing director of the South West Trains-Network
Rail Alliance, said: "The alliance is an industry first which was
created to deliver a better railway for passengers using ways of working
which have not previously been possible.
"Bringing the Waterloo International Terminal into permanent use is
an example of what it can help to achieve. It has been made possible by
working with many organisations, including the Department for Transport,
and is vital for the much-needed development of the railway across the
south and south west of England. It has been talked about for many years
and we have shown it is possible and remain committed to bringing
platform 20 into permanent use by April 2014 at the latest.
"The first year of the alliance has been both interesting and
challenging and highlighted that by working together we can deliver
better results than could be achieved by working individually. We have a
strong foundation to build on and over the next six years passengers
will benefit from a safer, more efficient and reliable railway with more
capacity and better facilities as we continue to invest in one of the
busiest railways in Europe."
A number of industry partners were onboard the train to see
first-hand the improvements already underway at Waterloo and the plans
in place to improve the railway for passengers.
Increasing the number of available platforms at Waterloo is vital to
address the capacity challenge across the Wessex route and the alliance
will continue to work with the Department for Transport to develop plans
for the whole of the international terminal to be used and other
platforms to be extended.
Passenger numbers are predicted to grow by 51% over the next 11
years. The introduction of over 100 extra carriages, which will start in
summer, and use of platform 20 will help to provide capacity for an
additional 23,000 daily peak-time passengers by December 2014.
It is just one of many improvements which will be made. The alliance
is also committed to providing extra trains, additional carriages to
existing services and to delivering associated infrastructure schemes
including resignalling, power supply and platform extensions across the
route. Extensive work is required to ensure platform 20 can be used for
full passenger services which includes opening a new exit through onto
platform 19, bringing signalling back into use, re-railing parts of the
track, roof repairs, platform work and installing new CCTV and lighting.
Since the alliance was created in April 2012, passenger satisfaction
has increased from 83% to 85% and the efficiency of track maintenance
work has increased by 25%. The timetable has been amended to allow
better access to the tracks for maintenance work and an emergency
intervention unit has been introduced which allows faster response times
to incidents which can cause delays to passengers.