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Warnings of hour-long rail delays ahead of August upgrade

A points failure has caused extra disruption for passengers just hours after the major works at Waterloo started.

Journeys already taking an hour longer from the south are now being slowed down by another 25 minutes according to South West Trains with the issue expected to last until 1500 this afternoon.

An earlier signal problem also halted trains on the Reading line.

Network Rail says its working to make repairs as soon as possible.

Half the station is closed to allow for a massive upgrade with work starting in the early hours of the morning.

The work will last for three weeks.

By Mike Pearse

Hundreds of thousands of rail passengers in the south are facing the worst ever disruption to services because of more than three weeks of major engineering works at Waterloo that start in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

1,000 engineers will move on site and ten platforms will close. Then the disruption will begin for the 650,000 journeys each day on South West Trains.

The impact will be on services right across the region with Surrey, Hampshire, Berkshire and Wiltshire badly hit.

Around half of South West Trains 1,750 services a day will be cancelled. It means at busy times there could be queues to get into stations of up to an hour. Waterloo and Clapham Junction will be worst hit. There could also be an impact for Southern passengers.

Credit: ITV Meridian

Passengers were asked to take leave or work from home in a massive awareness campaign, the biggest of its type.

But there is anger passengers will get no extra compensation. There have been online petitions and Transport Focus say the rules must be reviewed.

1,000 extra staff will be on hand to help passengers.

The massive work will mean ten platforms will close until after the August Bank Holiday.

The Waterloo International terminal will be back in use to help even with that only half the usual number of services will run.

The work is part of an £800 million project to increase capacity and cut crowding. Platforms will be made longer for new congestion busting carriages and will allow an extra 52,000 seats to be provided on trains.

The lines into Waterloo are the busiest in Europe with passenger numbers doubled over twenty years and continuing to grow.

Credit: ITV Meridian

Estimated waiting times at stations in the London network:

  • Waterloo - 30 minutes
  • Vauxhall - 30 minutes
  • Clapham Junction - 45 minutes

Estimated waiting times across Hampshire:

  • 30 minutes

Estimated waiting times across Surrey:

  • 60 minutes

This August we’re carrying out the single largest package of investment at Waterloo for decades as part of our £800 million Waterloo & South West Upgrade. This will ultimately lead to space for 45,000 extra passengers during the busiest times of day, equivalent to more than the capacity of the Oval and the O2 Arena combined."

“Doing major improvement work is always disruptive, so we’re providing these estimates on waiting times to make sure that passengers have everything they need to plan ahead. At the same time, we’re also continuing to advise passengers to travel earlier or later than normal to avoid the busiest times of day, or to consider working from home where possible.”

“I fully appreciate there’s never a good time to close any section of the railway, but we’ll be doing everything we can to make journeys as smooth as possible, and passengers will see extra staff at stations who will be on hand to provide information and advice.”

– Becky Lumlock, route managing director at Network Rail
Credit: ITV Meridian

Asking passengers to queue outside stations is never a decision we take lightly but we do expect these works to cause some temporary inconvenience for our passengers and we want to be as honest as possible."

“We have carried out an extensive 12 month campaign to raise awareness of the works taking place and we ask passengers for their patience while these works are carried out which will provide extra capacity for the growing numbers of passengers who use this railway.”

"Independent research carried out by Transport Focus, the independent transport watchdog, shows that 84% of passengers are already aware of the Waterloo upgrade, and around half are planning to work from home, use another office or take annual leave during the part-closure."

– Adam Piddington, customer service director at South West Trains