Stagecoach hopes Waterloo services will help ease the strain on South-West Trains

Stagecoach hopes to seal plans to ease the pressure on the South-west's packed rail network this year with services from Waterloo station, the company said yesterday.

The group, which operates South West Trains, hopes to increase the number of passengers able to travel from the south London rail hub by 30 per cent by reopening the former Eurostar platforms.

Martin Griffiths, its chief executive, said: "Nobody is more aware than I am that there is a capacity challenge in the South-west. Reopening of the international platforms needs to happen and it's hugely important that is agreed in the coming months."

The platforms were closed after Eurostar moved to St Pancras in 2007, which allowed it to increase capacity and the number of destinations served. One of the five platforms reopened last October with limited services.

South West Trains and Network Rail ultimately plan to cater for 10,000 more passengers a day by 2019.

Stagecoach posted a 2 per cent increase in annual pre-tax profits to £158m, aided by new bus contract wins in London and an 80 per cent boom in operating profits in its fledgling US business.

Mr Griffiths said that the company is expecting a decision over which company will land the contract to run London's Docklands Light Railway "in the coming weeks".

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