One of the five disused platforms at the Waterloo International Terminal will be brought back into use from 2014, transport secretary Justine Greening has announced.
The Department for Transport says that platform 20 of the former Eurostar terminal – which was converted for use by domestic trains in 2008 but has never been used – will be opened in 2014.
The Government spent £2.9 million punching holes in the wall between platform 19 in the domestic station and platform 20 in the international terminal. Signs and electronic departure boards were also erected, but the new facilities, unused for three years already, will not put put to use until summer 2014.
The extra platform is required because the Government is providing funding to South West Trains to lease 50 extra carriages to provide longer peak-hour trains and extra services on the Reading line.
The carriages – which will provide capacity for around 8,000 extra peak-time passengers into Waterloo every morning – will start to enter service from May 2013, with all the units in place by July 2014.
The extra trains are refurbished class 460 'Juniper' units formerly used by Gatwick Express.
"Passengers travelling into Waterloo have to suffer some of the busiest trains in the country, with sardine-can like conditions on many peak-time services," says transport secretary Justine Greening.
"These extra carriages will help ease those conditions, while opening an extra platform will provide space for additional trains to run. But our plans do not stop here.
"We are now embarked on one of the largest programmes of rail investment since the Victorian era and we expect to introduce further carriages on Waterloo routes and bring more platforms into use in the future."
The DfT says that Network Rail is planning to make further use of Waterloo and Waterloo International to cope with future demand.
In the meantime the Government, through BRB (Residuary), is spending significant sums of money maintaining and securing the empty station.
"Last year I revealed that it had cost taxpayers over £4 million to keep the platforms at Waterloo International station closed, so it is clearly good news that at least one platform is now to be brought back in to use to help relieve the overcrowding," says Lib Dem London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon.
"We now need to see a timetable for when the other platforms will be open."
The final Eurostar train left Waterloo in 2007 when the Channel Tunnel service moved its London terminal to St Pancras.
The station is currently in use as a theatre. The current production of The Railway Children is due to end on 8 January 2012.
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