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  1. ITV Report

Network Rail announces £38 billion five year rail upgrade

Passengers waiting for services into London Photo: ITV Meridian

Waterloo international cost £135 million to build for use by Eurostar but has been left empty for seven out of it's 20 years. It is a very sad sight as any regular commuter will tell you.

Passengers who crowd onto trains have long been left frustrated that while they are packed like sardines five platforms that would ease the squeeze and allow more and longer trains to run from Berkshire, Hampshire, Dorset and Surrey have been left idle.

To make matters worse South West Trains has over those years seen passenger numbers rise by 50 per cent - up from 350,000 a day to over 550,000 now. And the figure is forecast to rise another twenty per cent in the coming years. Waterloo is the busiest station in the country with 100 million people passing through it a year.

It was in May 1994 the terminal was opened by the Queen. But after just thirteen years Eurostar moved to its new St Pancras home where the new high speed line to the Channel tunnel ends.

Over five million pounds has been spent by the Government to keep the building secure.

So why have the platforms not been used by South West Trains?

The problem lies with the layout of the track. The terminal was built to take Eurostar trains and not commuter services from the south. The trains head out of London joining the route taken by Southeastern and Southern services to south London and Kent. This makes it impossible for most SWT services to use it. They simply can not get in. There are no points they can cross except for one platform to be used. And then it can only take trains on the line to Windsor.

It had been suggested a flyover be built to take trains from key lines into Waterloo to the terminal which has five platforms. The delay has been the £200 million suggested cost which the Government said they couldn't afford and ordered a series of reviews to look at alternatives.

There are also concerns the work will be highly disruptive.

South West Trains who formed an alliance with Network Rail have been working on various options and will outline the plan today.

The first platform - number 20 - to open will be for Windsor line trains in May. Two more will follow with details revealed later about the project.

For passengers the platforms can't open soon enough. South West Trains have long made it clear without the Waterloo International platforms the overcrowding problems will never be solved.

In an exclusive interview interview last year with ITV News Meridian Managing Director Tim Shoveller said the project was his top priority and would campaign harder than ever for the improvement. Today he will be one person at Waterloo with a smile on his face.

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