Waterloo engineering works pile pressure region’s small businesses
Small firms in south London and the commuter belt could be hit hard by the ongoing engineering works at Waterloo station throughout August, a business lobby group has claimed.
The Federation of Small Businesses has suggested that the major works, being carried out by Network Rail from August 5 to August 28, could have ‘lasting implications’ for retailers.
Ten of the station’s 19 platforms are closed as part of the works, while signal problems have caused further issues on those that remain open.
Given that August is often viewed as peak season for tourism, the FSB has said many small, businesses may face unforeseen losses, reduced custom and increased risk.
Most of the South Western Trains network has been impacted in some way – reduced timetables have been implemented on major lines and some stations will shut entirely during peak hours.
FSB London policy chairwoman Sue Terpilowski warned that although most businesses’ are trying to “work flexibly” around the disruption, there will still “be lasting implications for small businesses already on tight margins”.
In particular, those in the hospitality and retail sectors are expected to be impacted, as lost bookings and reduced sales will not be recovered when the work is completed.
Implementing any plans to cover the disruption will likely cost time and money, and it comes at a time when operational costs are increasing.
For small businesses’ noting a significant drop in sales or custom, managing cash flow will be essential throughout August.
Network Rail advised staff to work from home where possible but it is not always practical, according to Colin Stanbridge, the Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
For those fearing the worst, a range of alternative finance options exist to aid growth or to overcome cash flow difficulties, which should also help to reduce the threat of insolvency that firms may face.
The upgrade works, part of an £800 million programme of redevelopment, are taking place 24 hours a day and involve a workforce totalling more than 1,000 people.
By Phil Smith