Network Rail has announced details of a 20% increase in the number of seats on trains into London before the decade is out. Some 115,000 extra passengers a day will be able to rest their legs if the plans come to fruition.
The capacity increases include platform extensions at Waterloo to accommodate ten-car trains, and (finally) the recommissioning of the old Waterloo International platforms, which have stood empty — save for some Railway Children — since 2007. Aged signalling will also be replaced, allowing trains to run closer together. Down the line, Reading station will be rebuilt at a cost of almost £1 billion.
The improvements are part of Network Rail’s £37.5 billion business plan for 2014-19. The document also includes more details of the capacity-increasing Thameslink upgrade, including the diversion of trains through Elephant and Castle during the £6 billion revamp of London Bridge station. Such schemes will be partly funded from those persistent above-inflation fare rises that we must endure, apparently, for another six years. The remaining funding will come from the cost savings and increased passenger numbers that the new infrastructure will allow.
The plans must now be approved by the Office of Rail Regulation.