London Waterloo – the UK’s most shameful station for pedestrians?


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London Waterloo - the UK's most shameful station for pedestrians?

Posted 9 April 2009 09:53 by martin

Take a look at this:


You're looking at one of the main pedestrian entrances/exits of the UK's busiest train station – there were just over 100 million entries and exits in 2007/08 (next up was London Victoria with a mere 77 million).

Of course a large proportion of those people were going straight from a tube to a train (and vice versa), and were not venturing outside on foot.  Who could blame them?

Especially when they'd also be greeted by this:


And this:


And this forest of signs:


And this Tracey Emin piece:


As a commuter, visitor, tourist or local resident, how's this meant to make you feel?  Loved?  Welcome?  Proud?

It shows a scandalous disregard (contempt?) for people and their surrounding environment.  It would never be tolerated inside the station, but because it's a few metres outside the 'front door', a wild west of irresponsibility seems to kick in.

So who's to blame?  Network Rail?  South West Trains?  Lambeth Council?  Boris and the GLA?  You can hear the 'not us, gov' responses ricocheting around.

Ultimately, surely it's in all their interests to sort this out?

The irony is that just a stone's throw away, across the Waterloo Road, there's a lesson in how to do this stuff right:


High quality paving, high quality seating, trees, decluttered, good lines of sight.  It shows some respect to those travelling on foot.  And in a station context, just look at what great results they've achieved in Sheffield.

Who's going to sort this one out?  While there are grand plans to transform this area into Waterloo City Square, “to deliver significant improvements over the next 5 years”, aren't people going in and out of Waterloo station deserving of action a little quicker than that?

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  1. Matt says:

    April 9th, 2009 at 3:03 pm (#)

    The pedestrian access to Waterloo is a disgrace – check the footage during the cold snap!

  2. Chaz says:

    April 9th, 2009 at 3:18 pm (#)

    What you haven’t mentioned is the zebra crossing just outside the main steps. There’s a constant stream of traffic trying to get across this one lane and neither buses, taxis or pedestrians want to give way. Not satisfactory for anyone. The underpass to the I Max smells medieval most days and the sheer number of pedestrian crossings from the Southbank to the Station can add several minutes to your journey.

    The other exits aren’t great either. The doors opening out onto Waterloo Road decant you right into the traffic, although they have now removed the railings that turned it into a crush hazard come the evening rush hour. Years ago there was also an aerial walkway over York Road to Hungerford Bridge; that seems to have been broken up in favour of an assault course of steps, tunnels and slopes.

    It’s a bit of a hobby horse of mine but I have to put up with it every day…

  3. Alcuin says:

    April 9th, 2009 at 3:30 pm (#)

    I used to like the entrance by McDonald's/Starbucks before they messed it about to make it less accessible.

  4. Gary says:

    April 9th, 2009 at 4:15 pm (#)

    You seem to think litter is someone else's responsibility. Stop blaming other people. It's PEOPLE who litter not government departments. If we don't want to walk through a pig sty, we need to do something about it. Stop turning a blind eye.

  5. Dsmond says:

    April 10th, 2009 at 6:38 am (#)

    Don't hold your breath on the Waterloo City Square bit. I have lived in the area for over a decade and they have been talking about doing something for all of that time. Grand plans come, they go get watered down and a new bit of paving or a tree gets planted instead.

    Their current favourite method of improving things at Waterloo and all along the South Bank seems to be to liberally stick LED lights to anything that doesn't move. I sometimes wonder how long it will be before the homeless drunks, who sleep on the benches, awake to find themselves festooned in colour change rope lights.

  6. John D says:

    April 11th, 2009 at 9:26 pm (#)

    Who's to blame ? WE ARE !!

  7. Liz says:

    April 15th, 2009 at 10:27 am (#)

    I live in the area. Sadly after a while you just stop noticing it. But when it is highlighted in images like these it is noticeable how bad it is. That is a majestic entrance, beautiful architecture ruined by the litter and street furniture. But I agree with the person who said – it is people who do this. I wonder if any of the people writing here are smokers who litter the ground with disgusting butts. Yes there are things that Lambeth Council could do – clear the street furniture for example. But it is people who leave the cig butts and litter around.

    The area has deteriorated noticeably since the Eurostar was moved to Kings Cross. Also now many of the shops have been removed from the station to allow ticket barriers to be installed so I guess that means less money coming in from them. The bridge exit to the South Bank seems to have been closed for months with no noticeable work going on – just shut off. The subway is so minging that I avoid it most of the time. It is such a pity. I wish they had been able to have 2 stations for the Eurostar in London – one north and one south. Kings Cross was already a busy station, I don't understand why they needed to take the Eurostar from us. To me that really seems to have affected the station and the area.

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