London Waterloo Station, England, UK

London Waterloo Station, England, UK

London Waterloo (often “Waterloo”) is a major railway terminus in London, England owned and operated by Network Rail. It is in the London Borough of Lambeth near the South Bank, in Travelcard Zone 1, and houses a British Transport Police station. In the financial year from 2007/8 (the year before Eurostar services ceased using it) the Waterloo complex including the Underground and Waterloo East handled some 187.236 million passengers (not including interchanges on the underground), more than any other station in Europe.

It has the most platforms and greatest floor area (Clapham Junction, further down the line, has more trains). It is the terminus of a network of railway lines in South West England and the suburbs of London.\r\n


The London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) opened the station on 11 July 1848 when its main line was extended from Nine Elms. 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 City. The name on opening was ”Waterloo Bridge Station”, from the nearby Waterloo Bridge across the Thames. In 1886 it officially became ”Waterloo Station”, reflecting the long-standing common usage, and that of some L&SWR timetables.

As the station grew it became increasingly ramshackle: a little-used railway line 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 East, whose tracks lie perpendicular to those of Waterloo. Passengers were 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. 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.

Extensive reconstruction between 1900 and 1922 gave 21 platforms and a concourse nearly 800 feet (250 m) long. The main pedestrian entrance, the Victory Arch, is a memorial to company staff who were killed during the two world wars. Damage 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 station of the London Necropolis Company from which funerary trains, at one time daily, ran to Brookwood Cemetery bearing coffins at 2/6 each. This station was destroyed during World War II.

On the privatisation of British Rail in the 1990s, ownership and management of Waterloo passed to Railtrack, and subsequently to Network Rail. Platforms 20 and 21 were lost to the Waterloo International railway station 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 all Eurostar services transferred to the new St Pancras railway station with the opening of the second phase of “HS1”, High Speed route 1, formerly known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link or CTRL. Platform 20 is being returned to use by domestic services but the substantial track and signal work required at the station throat to bring the other international platforms into domestic use is currently considered incommensurate with the benefit.

In February 2008 a £20 million project to install 170 automatic barriers to all the main line platforms was announced. The barriers came into operation in January 2009. This is the longest line of ticket barriers in the UK.

Station Facilities

The major transport interchange at Waterloo comprises London Waterloo, Waterloo East, the Underground station, 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.

River services operate from nearby Waterloo Pier next to the London Eye.
A large four-faced clock hangs in the middle of the main concourse. Meeting “under the clock at Waterloo” is a traditional rendezvous.


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 St Pancras. 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 prior to the terminus at Charing Cross.

Read the full article on Waterloo East.

Waterloo Underground Station

Waterloo is the second-busiest station on the Underground network, after Kings Cross St Pancras, served by the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern (Charing Cross branch) and Waterloo & City lines.

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 Paris: the Gare d’Austerlitz is named after the Battle of Austerlitz, one of Napolean’s greatest victories. However, this station is less important than most other stations in the city and Eurostar trains


  • The station is the subject of John Schlesinger”s documentary film Terminus
  • Several scenes in The Bourne Ultimatum, starring Matt Damon, were filmed with British actor Paddy Considine at Waterloo between October 2006 and April 2007
  • Bollywood film Jhoom Barabar Jhoom was filmed extensively within Waterloo and the storyline was set around two people awaiting passengers arriving at the station
  • Scenes for Incendiary were filmed at the station during April and May 2007
  • The station has been used to shoot scenes for films including London to Brighton, Russian Dolls, Franklyn, Breaking and Entering and Outlaw


  • In the Only Fools and Horses episode “Dates”, Del meets Raquel for the first time at Waterloo
  • BBC Top Gear presenters James May and Richard Hammond are filmed at Waterloo outside the Eurostar terminus as they race Jeremy Clarkson, who is in an Aston Martin DB9, to Monte Carlo. They are also filmed when forced to land at Lille and take the Eurostar to London to beat Jeremy to the NatWest Tower


  • 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) 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

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