NR considers decking option at Waterloo station
NETWORK Rail is considering installing decking over Waterloo station, to accommodate growing passenger numbers and to give developers the opportunity to build new homes and offices above the station.
Norrie Courts, Stations Director at Network Rail, told RAIL the organisation is at the early stages of coming up with a plan to transform the UK’s busiest railway station.
He explained the desire is to improve the customer experience first and foremost, with the commercial benefits afforded by the project acting as a bonus.
“We need to make sure that the
station is fit for purpose in 2045 or 2050, so what are we doing now to make sure that happens?” he told RAIL.
“We’ve extended Waterloo by incorporating five new platforms at the Waterloo International terminal, which will keep us going for another 15 to 20 years. But we need to sort out Waterloo - I think it’s a ‘deck over and a clean-out down below’ job. We should do a London Bridge-type scheme and clear out all the arches, so you can walk from the Thames through to Lower Marsh.”
Courts cautioned there are a number of hurdles Network Rail will need to overcome.
“It’s going to be expensive, and we need to get Lambeth Council on board,” he said.
“We need an engineering solution which allows us to go in and work our way across the station, and at the same time think from an engineering structures perspective how we would put in supports to build a deck above the station. If that is the case, what density could we put above the station?”
The only section of Waterloo that must remain is the war memorial on the Victory Arch, but the remainder of the building is not listed.
Courts told RAIL he also wants to see Victoria decked over, although he explained there are more logistical hurdles to overcome owing to more of this station being listed and because Buckingham Palace is nearby. However, he explained that it may be difficult to finance such work due to complicated Government policy.
“Funding is easy to bring into Network Rail, financing is difficult. Government accounting measures stop us from bringing in third-party financing measures at the moment. There is lots of pension money and lots of foreign companies out there who want to invest, but because we can’t transfer the risk properly we appear under the Government balance sheet,” he said.
“There’s no point in borrowing at 10% from someone else when we can borrow from the Government at 2% and not affect the balance sheet.
“We need to work with the Treasury and solve that problem, because until we do there will be a restriction on the money going into stations.”
Network Rail is considering options to install decking over Waterloo station, to create the opportunity for homes and offices to be built. The only part of the station that must remain intact is the war memorial on Victory Arch (pictured) as it is listed.