Friday 15 November 2013

Waterloo Station prepares for the Olympics

On 30th April 2012, for the first time since privatisation, a single executive team to manage rolling stock and the track was formed when Stagecoach and Network Rail made a deal, to run the railway under a single structure on the South West Trains network intended to operate until Stagecoach’s franchise agreement for South West Trains ends in 2017. The first concrete action was to combine the two management teams at Waterloo Station into a single unit. Network Rail Chief Executive David Higgins claiming the move was part of a drive to devolve decision making from the centre and towards “front-line managers”. Managing director Tim Shoveller, Managing Director of South West Trains, headed the combined management structure, led by nine executives grandiloquently called the “Alliance Senior Management Team”.
With four new escalators and lifts, opening on 29th May 2012, Waterloo Station acquired step-free access to Waterloo East. The works also marked the first stage of the balcony completion, and exposed the earlier abolition of the Surrey Room features.
By June 2012 the Waterloo Control Centre had recognised what was happening unofficially with some staff on South West Trains and was running an official twitter account from the busy Waterloo Control Centre. Whilst the railways may readily admit they were not in the forefront of embracing the new technology, the fact that the social media and digital communications exist is only a logical extension of the use of loudspeakers.
With the imminent arrival of the Olympics and an anticipated extra demand at Waterloo of another 80,000 passengers a day, it was announced in June 2012 that “The Drain”—was to open on Sundays throughout the Games renewing Sunday services which had last operated regularly between 1943 and 1947. “The Drain” supplied a critical link for spectators being a direct access to the Docklands Light Railway and Central line at Bank avoiding the Jubilee line. “The Drain” also helped people to avoid London Bridge, which was already being forecast to be one of the most overcrowded stations throughout the entire Games.
 In July 2012 Justine Greening’s attention again returned to Waterloo when she announced a £350 million plan to extend platforms at that Station. The proposal formed part of the “High Level Output Specification” programme (as modern management-corporate-political speak demands) for 2014-2019 published by the Department for Transport. The platform lengthening project was part of a series of measures intended to create extra capacity for commuters into London by running longer trains. Department for Transport estimates are predicated on the belief that the number of passengers arriving at Waterloo during the three busiest hours of the morning rush “hour” is likely to increase by nearly 10% between 2012-17. It was perhaps therefore no surprise that South West Trains in July also announced that from May 2013 trains extended from eight to 10 carriages will leave Windsor, easing pressure on stations further up the line at Staines, Twickenham and Richmond. Furthermore commuters travelling on the Waterloo-bound line from Reading after May 2013 would from 2014 also begin “benefiting” from two extra rush-hour trains - at the extraordinarily uncivilised times of 6.24am and 6.54am.

from The History of Waterloo Station

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