Sur­vey un­cov­ers men­tal im­pact of Water­loo works

Surrey Advertiser - - Front Page -

A NEW sur­vey has re­vealed that the Lon­don Water­loo up­grade had an im­pact on the men­tal health of al­most 40% of Sur­rey res­i­dents.

Dur­ing the works, which be­gan on Au­gust 5, thou­sands of com­muters from across the county ex­pe­ri­enced ‘ex­tremely’ busy trains, queues out­side sta­tions and can­celled ser­vices.

The sur­vey con­ducted by Get Sur­rey, in which 128 peo­ple took part, found that a num­ber of pas­sen­gers from Sur­rey faced ‘in­creased stress lev­els’, fa­tigue and even anx­i­ety at­tacks dur­ing the three weeks of dis­rup­tion. A sur­vey par­tic­i­pant wrote:

of­ten found my­self “I dread­ing in the hours be­fore­hand go­ing to the sta­tion in fear of what I would find.

“Even in the build up to the works, I found my­self ob­sess­ing over train times and whether I could make ap­point­ments and work on time.”

Another said: “I have anx­i­ety any­way but the ex­ces­sive crowd­ing trig­gered at­tacks of anx­i­ety and panic.”

In ad­di­tion, 60% of re­spon­dents felt that the works at UK’s busiest train sta­tion had an im­pact on their fam­ily life.

A par­tic­i­pant told us: “I have a baby and I missed his bath and bedtime ev­ery night for three weeks.”

Another pas­sen­ger added: “My fi­ancé and I both com­mute to Water­loo ev­ery day.

“We went from a cou­ple to ‘room mates’ as we only ever saw each other for an hour be­fore need­ing to go to bed to get up ear­lier than usual.”

Ac­cord­ing to par­tic­i­pants, jour­neys to and from Water­loo sta­tion were par­tic­u­larly stress­ful dur­ing morn­ing and evening rush hour.

More than 40% of re­spon­dents said that the worst as­pect of trav­el­ling dur­ing the up­grade was ‘un­re­li­a­bil­ity’, with 66% of pas­sen­gers con­fess­ing that they were late for work at least once.

A par­tic­i­pant said: “I was late ev­ery sin­gle day that I took the train to work.”

“I was con­stantly late get­ting to work and even more de­layed get­ting home in the evening,” another pas­sen­ger men­tioned.

Ad­di­tion­ally, a re­spon­dent said that ac­cess for dis­abled pas­sen­gers was ‘dif­fi­cult’.

The sur­vey par­tic­i­pant ex­plained: “Staff at Water­loo did not know what type of wheel­chair ramp to bring out to the train be­cause they did not know in ad­vance what type of train would be com­ing in next.”

Even though most re­spon­dents (77%) said they were “happy” about the re­open­ing of the sta­tion on Au­gust 29, they be­lieve fur­ther dis­rup­tion is ex­pected.

A pas­sen­ger com­mented: “The train ser­vice has been ap­palling since the works have been com­pleted.

“Trains are even more over­crowded, con­stantly late and crawl­ing into Water­loo.”

A Net­work Rail spokesman com­mented on the sur­vey: “Clos­ing ten plat­forms at the coun­try’s busiest sta­tion was al­ways go­ing to be dis­rup­tive and we sin­cerely thank our pas­sen­gers for their pa­tience dur­ing that time.

“To help sup­port them we started warn­ing peo­ple more than a year be­fore the work be­gan so they could plan ahead, de­ployed more than a thou­sands ex­tra staff across our route to help peo­ple on their jour­neys, gave away free water and ice cream and chose Au­gust as it tra­di­tion­ally qui­eter on the rail­way.

“The for­mer rail op­er­a­tor, South West Trains, also of­fered com­pen­sa­tion for sea­son ticket hold­ers.”

South West­ern Rail­way (SWR), which has re­placed South West Trains, be­gan op­er­at­ing in Lon­don and the south of Eng­land on Au­gust 20.

Since then, SWR cus­tomers have been af­fected by a string de­lays and can­cel­la­tions.

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