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Waterloo Station: work starts on 10 million ‘St Pancras-style’ makeover

Work has begun on a £10 million project to create 18 new shops - including a champagne bar - on a balcony above the concourse of Waterloo Station.

Waterloo Concourse
Before and after views of Waterloo Station's concourse

Commuters arrived at the station last week to find that familar shops including WHSmith and Paperchase had been boarded up prior to demolition to free up space on the concourse.

The Sloe Bar and the Whistleshop convenience store have also shut their doors in recent weeks.

More shops, including Tie Rack and Lewins Express, are currently holding closing down sales.

The makeover was announced last November and preparatory work has now begun.

The scheme, which rail bosses say has been inspired by the success of St Pancras International, will create 20,000 sq ft of new retail space at first-floor level.

Network Rail says that the balcony built to access the new shops will also improve the connection between Waterloo East and Waterloo mainline station.

"We are committed to improving stations for passengers and the Waterloo balcony scheme does just that by providing a better choice of restaurants and shops and easing congestion at Britain's busiest station," says Network Rail's head of retail Gavin McKechnie.

"This is an exciting milestone for Network Rail as Waterloo is one of the key stations across London where we a creating a better experience for passengers.

"Retail in stations is going from strength to strength with sales increasing year-on-year well above the high street. This new space at Waterloo will create exciting new opportunities for those looking to benefit from the high footfall of the busiest station in the country, as well as a great destination for casual dining, shopping and bars."

Network Rail awarded the 10.6 million contract for the scheme to Bam Construction which has started to remove the existing shops and kiosks on the concourse. The station's existing first-floor offices will then be converted into 18 new retail spaces and a 220 metre-long balcony will be constructed which will be accessible by a lift, escalators and stairs.

Network Rail says that when work is completed passengers will benefit from a wider choice of casual dining restaurants and shops, including a new champagne bar under the original glazing at the south end of the concourse.

The rail infrastructure company has a longer-term aspiration to move the station concourse to ground level to enable the platforms to be extended to accommodate longer trains, but the 10 million investment in the new balcony suggests that more radical change is still some time away.

Meanwhile the future of Waterloo's empty international terminal remains uncertain. The Railway Children theatre show will return to the station for a second season this summer.

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