London SE1 website team

Another two years till Waterloo International station is returned to use

The platforms at the disused Waterloo International station could finally be prepared for use by domestic trains next year and the 'orchestra pit' sunken concourse filled in.

Waterloo station
Waterloo International
A deck is to be built above the 'orchestra pit' to create a level concourse

Eurostar's last train left the station in November 2007 and the five platforms under Sir Nicholas Grimshaw's vast roof have been out of use for more than two years.

The former international terminal is now controlled by BRB (Residuary), a company controlled by the Department for Transport. Maintenance and security at the empty station costs taxpayers 2 million a year.

Platform 20 was converted for use by South West Trains services in 2008 and new connections were created between platforms 19 and 20 but the new facility has not yet been used.

For three years MPs of all parties have regularly tabled parliamentary questions to find out what the department's intentions for the station might be.

Last month transport minister Chris Mole gave a written answer that said: "Network Rail has been instructed by the Office of Rail Regulation to undertake the works necessary for Waterloo international station to be used by domestic train services from December 2011."

When we checked with the Office of Rail Regulation they were initially unable to find any record of such an instruction. However the Department of Transport confirmed that the ORR has told Network Rail to bring the empty platforms into use as part of its Delivery Plan for 2009 to 2014.

The works will include a new deck above the sunken former Eurostar concourse, known as the 'orchestra pit', which will allow level access to platforms 20 to 24.

The integration of the former international platforms would be a precursor to a larger-scale redevelopment of the entire station with a new concourse at ground level, extended platforms and high-rise commercial development above.

Lambeth Council is currently preparing a development brief for the redevelopment of Waterloo Station. Last month the council argued at a City Hall hearing that the viability of a wholesale rebuilding of the station will be threatened by Mayor of London Boris Johnson's Crossrail levy on central London office developments.

• Sir Nicholas Grimshaw's notebooks, including sketches for Waterloo International, are currently on display in the Tennant Room at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly.

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