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London Waterloo
Waterloo station main entrance.JPG
Victory Arch is the main entrance
Waterloo is located in Central London

Location of Waterloo in Central London
Location South Bank
Local authority London Borough of Lambeth
Managed by Network Rail
Station code WAT
Platforms in use 19
Accessible Handicapped/disabled access [1]
Fare zone 1

National Rail annual entry and exit
2004/5 62.389 million[2]
2005/6 61.036 million[2]
2006/7 83.993 million[2]
- interchange 4.227 million[2]
2007/8 100.307 million[2]

13 July 1848 Opened

List of stations Underground · National Rail
External links DeparturesLayout

Coordinates: 51°30′11″N 0°06′48″W / 51.5031°N 0.1132°W / 51.5031; -0.1132

Waterloo station,[3] also known as London Waterloo,[4] is a major central London railway terminus in London, England owned and operated by Network Rail. It is near the South Bank in the London Borough of Lambeth, and in Travelcard Zone 1. In the financial year from 2007/8 (during which Eurostar services stopped using it) the station handled some 100.307 million passengers. The number of people passing through the station is considerably greater, as this figure is based on ticket sales for London Waterloo alone and does not include usage data for the Underground and Waterloo East. The Waterloo complex ranks as one of the busiest passenger terminals in Europe, comparable to the Gare Saint-Lazare and second only to the Gare du Nord in Paris.[5] It has more platforms and a greater floor area than any other railway station in the UK. (Clapham Junction, just under four miles down the line, has the highest number of trains.) It is the terminus of a network of railway lines in South West England and the suburbs of London.



The London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) opened the station on 11 July 1848 as 'Waterloo Bridge Station' (from the nearby crossing over the Thames) when its main line was extended from Nine Elms. Designed by William Tite, it was raised above marshy ground on a series of arches.[6] The unfulfilled intention was for a through station with services to the City. In 1886 it officially became 'Waterloo Station', reflecting the long-standing common usage, even in some L&SWR timetables.

As the station grew it became increasingly ramshackle. The original 1848 station became known as the 'Central Station' as other platforms were added. The new platform sets were known by nicknames- the two platforms added for suburban services in 1878 were the 'Cyprus Station', whilst the six built in 1885 for use by trains on the Windsor line became the 'Kartoum Station'. Each of these stations-within-a-station had its own booking office, Taxi stand and public entrances from the street, as well as often poorly marked and confusing access to the rest of the station. By 1899 Waterloo had 16 platform roads but only 10 platform numbers due to way platforms in different sections of the station or on different levels sometimes duplicated the number of a platform elsewhere.[7] . A little-used railway line even crossed the main concourse on the level and passed through an archway in the station building to connect to the South Eastern Railway's smaller station, now Waterloo East, whose tracks lie perpendicular to those of Waterloo. Passengers were, not surprisingly, were confused by the layout and by the two adjacent stations called 'Waterloo'. By 1897 there were also three separate (and separately-owned) Underground stations named 'Waterloo' under or close by the station, as well as the adjacent Necropolis Company station.[8] . This complexity and confusion became the butt of jokes by writers and music hall comics for many years in the late 19th century. In Jerome K. Jerome's book Three Men in a Boat no one at Waterloo knows the wanted train's platform, departure time or destination.[8]

In 1899 the L&SWR decided that only totally rebuilding would improve the situation. The relevant legal powers were granted that year and extensive groundwork and slum clearance were carried out until 1904, which was when construction on the terminus proper began. The new station was opened in stages, the first 5 new platforms opening in 1910. Construction continued sporadically throughout the First World War but the new station finally opened in 1922 with 21 platforms and a concourse nearly 800 feet (250 m) long. The architecture of the new station included a large stained glass window depicting the L&SWR's company crest over the main road entrance, surrounded by a frieze listing the counties served by the railway (the latter survives today). These features were retained in the design despite the fact that by the time the station opened the 1921 Railway Act had been passed which spelt the end of the L&SWR as an independent concern[8]. The main pedestrian entrance, the Victory Arch (known as Exit 5) is a memorial to company staff who were killed during the two world wars. Damage to the station in World War II required considerable repair but entailed no significant changes to the layout.

A past curiosity of Waterloo was that a spur led to the adjoining dedicated station of the London Necropolis Company from which funeral trains, at one time daily, ran to Brookwood Cemetery bearing coffins at 2/6 each. This station was destroyed during World War II.[9]

  Railways around the South Bank
Charing Cross 
Head station
River Thames 
Bridge over water
Unknown route-map component "exSTRrg" Unknown route-map component "eABZlg"
Waterloo International 
Unknown route-map component "exCPICla" + Hub
Unknown route-map component "xCPICra" + Hub
Straight track + Hub
Unknown route-map component "exSTRlf" Unknown route-map component "eABZlg"
Station on track + Hub
 Waterloo East
South Western Main Line 
Continuation forward Straight track Unknown route-map component "tCONTg"
Straight track Unknown route-map component "tBHF"
 City Thameslink
Straight track Exit tunnel
Straight track Right side of cross-platform interchange Unknown route-map component "exCPICra"
River Thames 
Straight track Bridge over water Unknown route-map component "exWBRÜCKE"
Straight track Unknown route-map component "ABZ_ld" Unknown route-map component "xABZ_rd"
Track turning from left Unknown route-map component "KRZu" Track turning right Straight track
Elephant & Castle 
Station on track Junction from left Transverse track Track turning right
Continuation forward Straight track
and Sevenoaks 
Straight track Head station
 Cannon Street
Straight track Bridge over water
 River Thames
Unknown route-map component "ABZld" Track turning right
London Bridge 
Right side head station of cross-platform interchange Left side of cross-platform interchange
Track turning left Junction from right
Brighton Main Line 
Straight track
and South Eastern Main Line 
Continuation forward

Ownership of Waterloo underwent a succession, broadly typical of many British stations. Under the 1923 Grouping it passed to the Southern Railway (SR), then in the 1948 nationalisation to British Railways and following the privatisation of British Rail ownership and management passed to Railtrack in April 1994 and finally in 2002 to Network Rail.

Platforms 20 and 21 were lost to the Waterloo International railway station site, which from 1994 until 13 November 2007 was the London terminus of Eurostar international trains. Construction necessitated the removal of decorative masonry forming two arches from that side of the station, bearing the legend "Southern Railway". This was re-erected at the private Fawley Hill Museum of Sir William McAlpine, whose company built Waterloo International. Waterloo International closed when the Eurostar service transferred to the new St Pancras railway station with the opening of the second phase of "HS1", High Speed route 1, also known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link or CTRL. Ownership of the former Waterloo International terminal then passed to BRB (Residuary) Ltd.

Station facilities

The major transport interchange at Waterloo comprises London Waterloo, Waterloo East, the Underground station (which includes the Waterloo and City line to Bank, affectionately known as 'the drain') and an amorphous bus station.

Waterloo station connects to Waterloo East, across Waterloo Road, by a high-level walkway constructed mostly above the bridge of the former little-used connecting curve.

Waterloo station clock

River services operate from nearby Waterloo Pier next to the London Eye.

A large four-faced clock hangs in the middle of the main concourse. Meeting "under the clock at Waterloo" is a traditional rendezvous.[10]


Police station

For many years until February 2009 there was a British Transport Police police station at Waterloo by the Victory Arch, with a custody suite of three cells. Although it was relatively cramped, until the late 1990s over 40 police officers operated from it.[11] Following the closure of the Eurostar Terminal at Waterloo,[12] the police station at Waterloo finally closed in February 2009,[13] and the railway station is now policed from a new Inner London Police Station a few yards from Waterloo at Holmes Terrace.[14] The Neighbourhood Policing Team for Waterloo consists of an Inspector, Sergeant, two Constables, Special Constables, and 13 PCSOs.[15]

Transport Links

London bus route 1, 4, 26, 59, 68, 76, 77, 139, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 211, 243, 341, 381, 507, 521, RV1, X68 and night bus route N1, N68, N76, N171, N343 and N381.


Waterloo has 19 terminal platforms in use, making it the biggest station in the UK in terms of platform numbers. The station is managed by Network Rail, and all trains are operated by South West Trains.

Preceding station National Rail Following station
Terminus   South West Trains
Waterloo to Woking
Reading and Windsor Lines
Mole Valley Line
Kingston Loop Line
Hounslow Loop Line
Hampton Court Line
New Guildford Line
  South West Trains
Waterloo to Basingstoke
Alton Line
  Clapham Junction
  South West Trains
South Western Main Line
Portsmouth Direct Line
West of England Main Line
  Clapham Junction

Waterloo International

Farewell message from Eurostar to the erstwhile International station, viewed from western side of main concourse, December 2007

Waterloo International was the terminus for Eurostar international trains from 1994 until 2007 when they transferred to new international platforms at St. Pancras. Waterloo International's five platforms were numbered 20 to 24.

Preceding station National Rail Following station
    Disused Railways    
Terminus   Eurostar   Ashford

Waterloo East

Waterloo East is a through station, the last stop on the South Eastern Main Line before the terminus at Charing Cross.

Preceding station National Rail Following station
London Charing Cross   Southeastern
South Eastern Main Line
  London Bridge

Waterloo Underground station

Waterloo is served by the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern (Charing Cross branch) and Waterloo & City lines. It is one of only two London Terminals without a close connection to the Circle Line the other being London Bridge.

Preceding station   Underground no-text.svg London Underground   Following station
Bakerloo line
Northern line
towards Kennington or Morden
towards Stanmore
Jubilee line
towards Stratford
Terminus Waterloo & City line


Eurostar platforms

The disused international platforms of Waterloo, seen from the London Eye

Since the departure of Eurostar from Waterloo, the former Eurostar platforms 20-24 of Waterloo International have remained disused. Waterloo suffers from significant capacity problems, and proposals exist to convert the former international station to domestic use. In December 2008 preparatory work was carried out to enable platform 20 to be used by SouthWest Trains suburban services, including the removal of equipment such as customs control facilities, at an estimated cost of between £50,000 and £100,000.[16] However, the conversion of the remaining platforms has been delayed as it would require further alterations to the station infrastructure; the former Eurostar lines would now conflict with the Windsor line services, and it is proposed to build a flyover.[17] The re-opening of the Eurostar platforms is also linked to a separate project to acquire new rolling stock (possibly 15-car Siemens Desiro trainsets) to run longer trains. The annual cost of maintaining the disused platforms has been estimated at £500,000.[16]

The project has been criticised for its delayed completion date;[18] in 2009 the Department for Transport confirmed that National Rail was developing High Level Output Specification options for the station, with an estimated date for the re-opening of the platforms of 2014, seven years after their closure.[19]

Heathrow Airport links

Waterloo station is the central London terminus for the proposed Heathrow Airtrack rail service. This project, promoted by BAA, envisages the construction of a spur from the Waterloo to Reading Line to Heathrow Airport, creating direct rail links from the airport to Reading, Woking and Guildford. Airtrack is planned to open in 2015, subject to government approval.[20]

Cultural references

In the 1990s, after Waterloo station was chosen as the British terminus for the Eurostar train service, Florent Longuepée, a municipal councillor in Paris, wrote to the British Prime Minister requesting that the station be renamed because he said it was upsetting for the French to be reminded of Napoleon's defeat when they arrived in London by Eurostar.[21] There is a name counterpart in Paris: the Gare d'Austerlitz is named after the Battle of Austerlitz, one of Napolean's greatest victories. However, this station is less important than most other stations in the city.




  • In Jerome K Jerome's 1889 comic novel, Three Men in a Boat, the protagonists spend some time in the station, trying to find their train to Kingston upon Thames. After being given contradictory information by every railway official they speak to, they eventually bribe a train driver to take his train to their destination.


  • Waterloo and Waterloo Underground are the setting for the Kinks' song "Waterloo Sunset", written by Ray Davies and recorded in 1967. Its lyric describes two people (Terry and Julie, sometimes taken to refer to sixties icons Terence Stamp and Julie Christie[22][23] ) meeting at Waterloo Station and crossing the river (via Waterloo Bridge, as Davies has confirmed[citation needed]). The song has been recorded by Cathy Dennis and Def Leppard: other acts, such as David Bowie and Elliott Smith, have covered the song in live performances
  • Adrian Evans wrote the song "London Waterloo", which is dedicated wholly to the station
  • The lyrics in the 1979 song "Rendezvous 6:02" by British progressive band U.K. describe a meeting at Waterloo
  • The lyrics to "Torn On The Platform" by Jack Penate refer to the station ("train leaves at two, platform 3, Waterloo")
  • Carl Barat's band Dirty Pretty Things' debut album is called Waterloo to Anywhere
  • The booklet accompanying The Who's album Quadrophenia includes a photo of the album's protagonist on the steps of Waterloo, depicting a moment from the song 5:15
  • The music video to 'West End Girls' by the Pet Shop Boys was part filmed at Waterloo in the mid 1980s
  • Abba held a press photo shoot at Waterloo on 11 April 1974, the day after their first appearance on Top of the Pops, in celebration of their 'Waterloo' winning the Eurovision Song Contest five days before



  1. ^ "London and South East". Rail Map for People with Reduced Mobility. National Rail. September 2006. Retrieved 1 January 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Station usage". Rail statistics. Office of Rail Regulation. 12 March 2009. Retrieved 19 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "Stations Run by Network Rail". Network Rail. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 
  4. ^ "Station Codes". National Rail. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ 'York Road', Survey of London: volume 23: Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall (1951), pp. 40-44.
  7. ^ Biddle, Gordon (1973), Victorian Stations, Newton Abbot: David & Charles, p. 109, ISBN 0715359495 
  8. ^ a b c Marsden, Colin (1981), This Is Waterloo, Shepperton: Ian Allen Publishing, p. 2,3, ISBN 07 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Jones, Trevor; Newburn, Tim (1998), Private security and public policing, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 127, ISBN 0198265697 
  12. ^ Forest, James J F (1998), Homeland Security: Critical infrastructure, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 254, ISBN 027598771X 
  13. ^
  14. ^,-0.111159&spn=0.000766,0.002403&t=h&z=19
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b "8 year wait till commuters can use all Waterloo Eurostar platforms". LondonSE1. 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  17. ^ "Waterloo International Re-use". 2007-03-16. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  18. ^ "Waterloo International terminal platform reopening delayed". LondonSE1. 2008-10-21. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  19. ^ Waugh, Paul (2009-09-10). "Delayed: platforms for Waterloo commuters will not arrive until 2014". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  20. ^ "Heathrow Airtrack". BAA. Retrieved 6 January 2010. 
  21. ^ UK Waterloo insult to French visitors BBC website 6 November 1998
  22. ^
  23. ^

External links


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