Waterloo International station was opened in 1994 serving Eurostar trains through the channel tunnel to France. The station cost £130 million to build and won the EU prize for contemporary architecture but closed just 13 years later in 2007.

What happened?

Waterloo was just a temporary solution for a cash-strapped British Rail looking to provide an international service. The government had made it clear they would not pay for a dedicated new railway line and Waterloo could connect to existing lines into Kent and accommodate the extra trains and platforms.

It was a far from ideal solution, but it allowed Eurostar trains to start running with the opening of the channel tunnel. Eurostar proved to be a massive success and later on, the case for building a proper high-speed line was successfully made. This came at a cost of over £7.5 billion.

As software engineers, we’re reluctant to build short-term tactical solutions that subsequently need to be torn down and replaced with a ‘proper’ solution. The short-term solution is often heavily criticised (and often rightly so) because of the pain of the migration and cleanup. However tactical tech has an important part to play and can inform much bigger and more expensive decisions. A ‘hacky’ solution can mean you’re getting data from real customers much sooner and unearthing details would have otherwise remained unknown.