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Waterloo station, also known as London Waterloo, is a major railway terminus in Londonmarker, Englandmarker owned and operated by Network Rail. It is near the South Bankmarker in the London Borough of Lambethmarker, and in Travelcard Zone 1. In the financial year from 2007/8 (during which Eurostar services stopped using it) the Waterloo complex including the Underground and Waterloo Eastmarker handled some 187.236 million passengers (not counting interchanges on the underground), comparable to the Gare Saint-Lazaremarker in Parismarker and only behind the Gare du Nordmarker in Europe. It has more platforms and a greater floor area than any other railway station in the UKmarker. (Clapham Junctionmarker, 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 crossingmarker over the Thames) when its main line was extended from Nine Elmsmarker. Designed by William Tite, it was raised above marshy ground on a series of arches. The unfulfilled intention was for a through station with services to the Citymarker. 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 'Kartoummarker 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. . 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 Eastmarker, whose tracks lie perpendicular to those of Waterloo. Passengers were, not surprisingly, confused by the layout and by the two adjacent stations called 'Waterloo'. 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.

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. 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 stationmarker of the London Necropolis Company from which funeral trains, at one time daily, ran to Brookwood Cemeterymarker bearing coffins at 2/6 each. This station was destroyed during World War II.

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 stationmarker 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 stationmarker 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 Ltd.

Station facilities

The major transport interchange at Waterloo comprises London Waterloo, Waterloo Eastmarker, the Undergroundmarker 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 Piermarker next to the London Eyemarker.

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

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 until the late 1990s it was relatively cramped, over 40 police officers operated from it. Following the closure of the Eurostar Terminal at Waterloo, the police station at Waterloo finally closed in February 2009, and the railway station is now policed from a new Inner London Police Station a few yards from Waterloo at Holmes Terrace. The Neighbourhood Policing Team for Waterloo consists of an Inspector, Sergeant, two Constables, Special Constables, and 13 PCSO.


Waterloo has 20 terminal platforms, 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.


Waterloo International

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

Waterloo East

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

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 Bridgemarker.


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.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. 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.

The project has been criticised for its delayed completion date; in 2009 the Department for Transportmarker 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.

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. There is a name counterpart in Parismarker: the Gare d'Austerlitzmarker is named after the Battle of Austerlitzmarker, one of Napolean's greatest victories. However, this station is less important than most other stations in the city.




  • 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 ) meeting at Waterloo Station and crossing the river (via Waterloo Bridge, as Davies has confirmed ). 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


Image:Waterloo station - 1948 poster.jpg|A 1948 poster showing the main concourseImage:Waterloo facade.jpg|Detail of the Victory ArchImage:Waterloo Station concourse.jpg|Waterloo concourseImage:Waterloo station platforms 15 and 16 looking west.JPG|Platforms 15 and 16 looking westImage:Waterloo station.JPG|Waterloo from the London Eyemarker with Waterloo International on its western flankImage:Crowhurst, Edenbridge & Hurst Green Boscare(Bodmin) Waterloo RJD 126.jpg|A 1914 Railway Clearing House map of lines around Waterloo - note the connecting line between Waterloo and Waterloo East


  2. 'York Road', Survey of London: volume 23: Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall (1951), pp. 40-44.
  3. {{Citation | last = Marsden | first = Colin | title = This Is Waterloo | place = Shepperton | publisher =Ian Allen Publishing | year = 1981 | page = 2,3 | isbn =071101115X
  4. {{Citation | last = Marsden | first = Colin | title = This Is Waterloo | place = Shepperton | publisher =Ian Allen Publishing | year = 1981 | page = 2,3 | isbn =071101115X
  5. {{Citation | last = Marsden | first = Colin | title = This Is Waterloo | place = Shepperton | publisher =Ian Allen Publishing | year = 1981 | page = 2,3 | isbn =071101115X
  11. UK Waterloo insult to French visitors BBC website 6 November 1998

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