All five of the disused former Eurostar platforms at Waterloo Station could be used by domestic trains by 2019, under plans revealed this week.
The blueprint to deliver capacity for almost 10,000 extra peak-time passengers on the route in and out of London Waterloo by 2019 could involve a staged programme of additional, longer trains, platform extensions and re-openings, as well as signalling, track and power supply improvements.
The vision has been drawn up by the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance working in response to the Department for Transport's rail investment strategy.
It includes improvements around Waterloo Station as well as bringing the remaining four platforms of the Waterloo International Terminal back into use.
Work is already under way to bring platform 20 of the former international terminal back into service from spring 2014.
Under proposals developed by the alliance, platforms 21 to 24 could also be brought back into passenger service.
The former Eurostar terminal has been disused since international rail services moved to St Pancras in 2007.
Plans are being developed to extend platforms 1-4 to accommodate longer trains and to carry out track and signalling improvements to maximise the benefits of the platform developments.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "Britain needs a strong economy if it wants to compete globally and effective transport links are absolutely key to that. This is why the Government has embarked on one of the biggest programmes of rail modernisation ever.
"It's also vital to cost effectively create additional capacity at Waterloo – the capital's busiest railway station – making the proposals from South West Trains and Network Rail doubly important."
Tim Shoveller, managing director of the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance, said: "Our network is currently one of the busiest in Europe carrying more than 210 million passengers a year.
"We already have confirmed plans we have in place to deliver improvements in capacity over the next two years. However, the huge success of the railway in the UK means it will get significantly busier in the next two decades and beyond. There is also a need to invest in the infrastructure to improve the daily reliability for today's customers.
"The alliance between South West Trains and Network Rail means we are working more closely together, thinking big and creating plans for the long-term to deliver significant improvements for passengers.
"The blueprint we are developing in partnership with the Department for Transport is a massive programme of work and requires significant investment. These plans will greatly improve what is a key part of the country's transport infrastructure and ensure our rail network continues to support economic growth."
1South West Trains currently runs around 1,700 trains a day in and out of London Waterloo, carrying nearly 210 million passengers a year. This is forecast to increase to nearly 380 million a year by 2030.