Edward Davey (Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs; Kingston and Surbiton, Liberal Democrat)
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she expects the conversion of the Eurostar platforms at Waterloo for use by suburban trains to be completed; and if she will make a statement.
Tom Harris (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport; Glasgow South, Labour)
It is primarily the railway infrastructure outside Waterloo that limits the number of trains that can use the station rather than the number of platforms. Therefore the need is to run longer trains rather than more trains. So we are planning a large scheme to make sufficient platforms long enough to accommodate 10 and 12 car trains and to modify the junction layout on the approaches to the station. Such a scheme would allow the use of up to 50 per cent. longer trains than currently use the short platforms and would result in a large increase in capacity. The scheme also presents opportunities at Waterloo International to reconfigure the passenger circulation space and the interchange with other transport modes, and to better integrate the station into the surrounding area. Such an ambitious scheme requires very detailed planning to make the most of this unique opportunity.
In order to make the best use of the Waterloo International facility in the meantime, the Department is working closely with Network Rail and SSWT to finalise the design and costs of the partial conversion of Waterloo International to accommodate some domestic services. Therefore some services could use platform 20 of Waterloo International from the timetable change date in December 2008.
Following on from this, and linked to the delivery of the HLOS strategy and timescales, there will be a phased programme to lengthen services on the South Western network with Windsor line services extended to 10 cars and Reading line services extended to 12 cars. The 12 car Reading line services would utilise some of the Waterloo International platforms from 2010-12. For the next phase, the intention would be to extend mainline suburban services, (to destinations such as Shepperton, Hampton Court and Chessington), from eight to 10 cars. However, this will require complex reconfiguration of the infrastructure on the approaches to the station. As a consequence of the reconfiguration works, Windsor and Reading line services are expected to utilise the available platforms in the Waterloo International terminal. This is expected to be from 2012-14.