London

Waterloo Station: £800m revamp begins with signal failure

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Media captionPassengers react to Waterloo disruption on Saturday

Major engineering works that will cause severe disruption at the UK's busiest rail station have begun, as passengers were also delayed by a signal failure.

The £800m project started on Saturday and will close 10 platforms at London Waterloo until 28 August.

South West Trains said it is operating a significantly reduced service from popular commuter locations such as Woking, Guildford and Surbiton.

The points failure had caused delays between Clapham Junction and Waterloo.

August train delays and how to avoid them

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Image caption Nearly half of all the platforms at London Waterloo will be closed for the engineering works
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Media captionHow will the disruption affect your journey?

The work, which will get Waterloo ready for longer trains and provide space for 30% extra passengers during the busiest times of the day, will mean there will be no services to and from some stations, including Earlsfield, Chessington South and Tolworth.

To ease some of the impact of the work the old Eurostar platforms are being used at Waterloo for the first time since the cross-Channel train service relocated to London St Pancras in 2007.

Rail chiefs urged passengers to consider taking a holiday, working from home or travelling earlier or later than normal while the project is under way.

Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne has previously admitted he is "worried there will be challenging days" and accepted that "there are going to be days when the service is very difficult for people".

Image caption The signal failure is causing delays between Clapham Junction and Waterloo
Image caption Passengers were stuck in the delays

London Waterloo

Image copyright PA
  • It has 19 platforms
  • An average of 270,000 journeys are normally made to or from Waterloo every day
  • More than 99 million passenger journeys were made from Waterloo in 2016
  • South West Trains operates 1,600 trains a day, carrying 651,000 passengers, making it the busiest commuter operator in Europe

First Group and Hong Kong-based MTR will take over the South West Trains franchise from Stagecoach on 20 August.

The Waterloo work will culminate over the August bank holiday weekend, when it will be one of a number of large projects being carried out.

The weekend will see major disruption on trains out of London Bridge, London Euston, London Liverpool Street and London Paddington, as well as Waterloo.

Network Rail will hand out free ice cream at London Victoria, London Bridge and Euston next week as part of a promotional campaign to remind people to plan their journeys in advance.

It said it carries out major engineering work on bank holidays as up to 50% fewer passengers use the railway during those periods.

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