Disruption expected from major upgrade works at the UK’s busiest railway station has not materialised with trains quieter than expected.Ten platforms at London Waterloo will be shut until 28 August to enlarge station capacity.Network Rail had warned stations like Vauxhall and Wimbledon would be “exceptionally busy” while several others in south-west London are shut.However, passengers appear to have heeded warnings and avoided services.An average of 270,000 journeys are usually made to and from Waterloo each day.The £800m project will get the station ready for longer trains and provide space for 30% extra passengers during the busiest times of the day.
Apart from a few cancellations, train services during the morning rush hour were mostly running to timetable.However, a signal failure at about 09:30 which affected three platforms caused delays to trains in and out of the station.Closed and part-closed stations:Chessington South
Earlsfield (weekdays only until 10:00 and between 16:30 and 19:30)
Vauxhall (will be partially closed as platforms 7 and 8 will be closed and a large number of trains will no longer call there)
BBC Radio London reporter Barry Caffrey said both Wimbledon and Clapham Junction stations were “quiet” during the rush hour and there were none of the expected queues.He added that passengers he had spoken to at Waterloo had been “pleasantly surprised” by their morning commute.Stations elsewhere on the network were also quieter than normal.Winchester station was described as a “ghost town” while passengers at Esher station, who had been told to expect lengthy queues, instead found empty platforms.
About 1,000 workers are taking part in the upgrade work.When the works began on Saturday, services were also hit by a signal failure.Network Rail CEO Mark Carne apologised for the disruption to trains but said there was “no other way to do this”.”There will be three weeks of disruption but decades of fantastically improved services,” he said.However, the Federation of Small Businesses has warned the problems will have “lasting implications for small businesses”.”This is peak season for tourism and… many restaurants, hotels and shops will experience cancelled bookings and lost sales that will not be recovered”, Chairwoman Sue Terpilowski said.
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It has 19 platforms
An average of 270,000 journeys are normally made to and 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
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Source: BBC Somerset