Published 9th August 2012
London - A new £25m balcony will help improve the travelling lot of 300,000 daily passengers at Waterloo and vastly improves access to and from Waterloo East station.
If passengers have time to kill at the station, the new balcony provides a great viewing gallery and opportunities to spend some money as well! Ten new retail outlets are located on the 220m balcony, opened just in time for the Olympic Games’ crowds.
The new balcony is the longest at any UK railway station and is the highly visible part of Network Rail’s (NR) £25m improvement project to transform the station.
The daily journey for the 300,000 daily passengers has been made easier with the installation of escalators and relocating retail outlets previously located in the middle of the main concourse to the balcony. This has also allowed step free access between the two Waterloo stations for the first time after lifts were installed in May.
There is a wide choice of places to eat and shop with an extra 20,000 sq. ft. of retail open. New outlets are YO! Sushi, Fat Face, Hotel Chocolat, Oliver Bonas, Links of London, Thomas Pink and Joules.
Further additions will include Italian eatery, Carluccio's, Kiehl’s, Sports Bar & Grill, Benugo and Corney & Barrow’s new concept bar The Cabin, which will be opening soon. Once all the new units are open, the retail capacity within the station will total 55,000 sq ft across 38 stores.
The rejuvenation of Waterloo station has also seen the London and South Western Railway ornate carvings and architecture cleaned and viewable at close range from the balcony. These will be of interest to any railway historian and depict destinations no longer served by Waterloo’s trains.
David Biggs, director of property at NR, said: “We are dedicated to improving the facilities, layout and retail experiences for millions of commuters nationwide through various station expansion projects within Britain’s major cities.
As with the new western concourse at King’s Cross earlier this year, the Waterloo balcony project forms part of our wider retail strategy to create ‘destination’ stations for both rail passengers and non-travelling customers. It also provides a crucial, sustainable source of income for the station, which can be reinvested directly into the rail network to continuously improve our services to passengers.”
Tim Shoveller, managing director of the Network Rail/South West Trains alliance said: “Waterloo, as many of our customers know, is a very busy station. We have over 90m passengers passing through every year and there is 30% growth predicted by 2030. Our challenge is to deliver extra capacity so our passengers can get the rail services they rely on.
“We needed to find a radical solution to improve the space and facilities at Waterloo. The opening of the balcony, with the removal of retail units from the concourse, crucially reduces congestion while still providing the facilities expected at a modern station. Passengers will now find it easier to get to and from their trains. The next crucial stage is to extend the platforms so we can run longer trains with more capacity, to cater for the predicted growth in passenger numbers.”
Waterloo has become an important gateway to some of the best cultural institutions the city has to offer – from the Old Vic and The National Theatre to Shakespeare’s Globe.
The opening of the Blackfriars southern entrance this year and the new arrangements at Waterloo have immediately boosted tourism to the Southbank. This increased number of visitors as well as commuters will all benefit from these railway projects.