Welcome to Hertsrail : a joined-up rail network in Hertfordshire

There is an abundance of north-south rail travel in Hertfordshire. A facility for east-west rail travel would provide us with a joined-up rail network.

Drawings (diagrammatic maps) are displayed full size for clarity.


St Albans to Hatfield railway line

A St Albans to Hatfield railway would be useful. We want Hertfordshire County Council to recognise this and include it in the county rail strategy.

The Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey branch line would be extended to connect into the St Albans to Hatfield line at London Colney, as illustrated above. This is a single-track line, permitting a train either in the direction Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey or in the opposite direction but not both at the same time. Currently the service cannot run more frequently than every 45 minutes and is provided by a single train. Here and now, we need a more frequent service on the Abbey line. A service every 30 minutes would be more attractive to passengers, requiring two trains and an upgrade to the infrastructure enabling the two trains to pass, known as a passing loop.

One possibility is that trains might pass at How Wood station or vicinity. This is further north than the midpoint, giving more time for the train driver to change ends at St Albans Abbey than at Watford Junction. The Abbey station is unstaffed, so the train crew could use the time available to do ticketing i.e. revenue protection, which helps to ensure a better case for keeping the line open.

Abbey line with trains passing at How Wood

In conjunction with a St Albans to Hatfield railway, a rail link as illustrated earlier between Watton-at-Stone and Hertford East enables east-west rail travel across Hertfordshire via Stevenage. The result is a joined-up rail network in Hertfordshire.

What is Hertsrail ?

Hertsrail is a proposal for a joined-up rail network in Hertfordshire. It is based on comprehensive research by rail researcher RailEnable.

RailEnable, also known as RailAble, researches an improved rail network. Hertsrail, our proposal for a joined-up rail network in Hertfordshire, is the RailEnable project : "East west rail - Oxford to Cambridge". For much more information on our proposal visit RailEnable (opens in new window or tab).

To support our proposals for a joined-up rail network in Hertfordshire, we invite you to read our previous newsletters and sign up to receive them at Hertsrail newsletter (opens in new window or tab).

What is Hertfordshire - Essex Rapid Transit (HERT) ?


HERT map

Hertfordshire - Essex Rapid Transit (HERT) is a proposal to close the Abbey line with a high-frequency bus service Watford to Harlow, also Hemel Hempstead to Harlow. The proposal is flawed since buses will get stuck in traffic on the Hemel Hempstead to Harlow road i.e. the A414.

Our alternative is a joined-up rail network in Hertfordshire :
(i) Hertfordshire County Council to recognise that a St Albans to Hatfield railway would be useful and include it in the county rail strategy;
(ii) the immediate objective of a more frequent service on the Abbey line to provide a better service for existing customers (step 1 below).

In addition to proposing a joined-up rail rail network in Hertfordshire, Hertsrail is the means to secure the future of the Abbey line. We encourage supporters of the Abbey line to read our previous newsletters and sign up to receive them at Hertsrail newsletter (opens in new window or tab).

HERT will not be trams Hertfordshire - Essex Rapid Transit (HERT) will not be trams (opens in new window or tab).

HERT is a bus network. Hertsrail is a rail network. They are alternatives. A rail network is a better proposal for Hertfordshire and also provides better travel opportunities well beyond Hertfordshire.

Our proposals for the Abbey line

Our step by step proposals for the Abbey line are as follows.

Step 1. Service every 30 minutes. As outlined above, one possibility is that trains might pass at How Wood station or vicinity. This is further north than the midpoint, giving more time for the train driver to change ends at St Albans Abbey than at Watford Junction. The Abbey station is unstaffed, so the train crew could use the time available to do ticketing i.e. revenue protection, which helps to ensure a better case for keeping the line open.

In June 2022 it was announced that the bid for a passing loop at Bricket Wood, enabling a more frequent service than currently operates, was rejected by the Department for Transport (DfT). However we are proposing trains passing at How Wood or vicinity and which awaits evaluation.

Further information : A more frequent service on the Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey line

There is a proposal to reduce service frequency on the line as from December 2022, to which we are opposed, as part of step 1 : Opposing the plan to reduce service frequency on the Abbey line

A possibility is the provision of services from the Abbey line to or via Watford High Street : Connecting the Abbey line to Watford High Street

Step 2. Extend the Abbey line to London Colney, designed as a through route for a St Albans to Hatfield line.

The Abbey line extended to London Colney

Step 3. A St Albans to Hatfield line. London Colney then provides an interchange between the Abbey line as extended and Thameslink services. This is as illustrated at the top of this page, differing marginally from the above illustration.

Hertfordshire County Council having recognised that a St Albans to Hatfield railway would be useful and having included it in the county rail strategy, the approach we suggest is to plan the line, select a route and safeguard it. This provides land and property owners with the opportunity to make arrangements to sell, if and when they choose to do so.

Step 4. In conjunction with a St Albans to Hatfield railway, a rail link between Watton-at-Stone and Hertford East enables east-west rail travel across Hertfordshire via Stevenage. Alternatives could be considered, for example there is a dismantled line eastwards from Welwyn Garden City, not illustrated. The result is a joined-up rail network in Hertfordshire.

We conclude our home page with a view of St Albans Abbey station on a sunny day in 2017. The links at the top of the page are for further information.



St Albans Abbey station on a sunny day in 2017
St Albans Abbey station on a sunny day in 2017

St Albans Abbey station on a sunny day in 2017. PeterSkuce, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

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Last revised 13 September 2022