A trio of new platforms have opened at Waterloo station, to little fanfare.
These are no ordinary platforms. Until 11 years ago, this was the boarding space for Eurostar trains to the continent. Waterloo International closed down in 2007 when trains shifted to St Pancras.
The station has been mothballed ever since, save for the occasional film shoot or theatre production. Now, thanks to an £800 million refit, passengers can board trains here once again, and without flourishing a passport.
What are Waterloo’s new platforms like?
The station architecture retains its ability to inspire awe. Grimshaw Architects’ blue steel roof is a class apart from the generic glass structure that shelters the rest of the station.
Less inspiring is the station approach — a grey slab bridge like someone’s taken the batteries out of Thor’s Bifröst.
The whole entrance remains incomplete, as building works continue to the north, and down in the old Eurostar check-in area (which will become a retail space). This is a phased reopening, with Platforms 20-22 open now (20 is currently accessed by a side door), and 23 and 24 due by May 2019.
The platforms aren’t yet up to full capacity. In the hour we spent in Waterloo, we only clocked two trains stopping at the platforms. One was delayed and the other was subject to a platform alteration.
We would have lingered longer to investigate, but the resident busker started belting out Andrew Lloyd Webber standards. Instead, we boarded a third train, bound for Reading via Clapham Junction. Sure, it’s not as glamorous as a direct train to Paris, but the extra commuter capacity will be a major boon.
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