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Project : East west rail - Oxford to Cambridge

Article date 5 November 2019
Minor revision 13 November 2019

Oxford to Cambridge : east west rail at Watford

There has been much discussion for some years concerning the future of the Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey line. In this article we will discuss some options for this line, specifically within the context of travel in the Oxford to Cambridge arc, known as East West rail.

An Oxford to Stevenage corridor is illustrated below. Luton Airport Parkway, not illustrated, is to the south of Luton station on the Midland Main Line (MML).


Summary southern option for Oxford to Cambridge arc central section

This Oxford to Stevenage corridor is discussed in our review Oxford to Cambridge by rail : southern options for the central section

Our review hypothesises a possible route via Luton Airport Parkway and Bedford. The route is Oxford, Aylesbury, Rickmansworth, Watford Junction, St Albans (City), Luton Airport Parkway, Luton, Bedford (or Wixams), Cambridge. With a Luton Airport to Stevenage corridor we have a possible route Oxford, Aylesbury, Rickmansworth, Watford Junction, St Albans (City), Luton Airport, Stevenage. These two routes could potentially operate concurrently.

It should be borne in mind that our diagrammatic maps are intended to illustrate railway infrastructure and are not to scale. In terms of distance travelled, Oxford, Aylesbury, Watford Junction, St Albans, Luton Airport and Stevenage to Cambridge is a very reasonable proposal.

Hertfordshire Local Transport Plan

Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) Local Transport Plan 4, May 2018, ( HCC Local Transport Plan 4 ) proposes Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in southern Herts, page 8. Illustrated in dark green, this commences at Hemel Hempstead in the west and is the last item in the left hand column of the legend. BRT is explained on page 105 as making uses of the A414 North Orbital road, where we read "It can be delivered at much lower cost than rail or light rail alternatives", a statement made without justification. Later on the same page, "Connectivity to St Albans could be provided by bus or via an interchange with the Abbey Line but this will need to be assessed as part of the consideration of long term options in the Watford-St Albans corridor." and "The scheme will be developed further as part of the A414 Corridor Strategy and LTP4 Growth and Transport Plans."

On a happier note for those who believe that rail travel is a better option, movement corridors are listed on page 38 where we read "Particular attention is required on enhancing the attraction of rail on these corridors (where already available)". We note that Watford - Luton forms part of corridor 2.

On page 95 we read "The Abbey Line branch railway provides a connection between St Albans and Watford with significant onward commuter travel to London."

On page 103 we read, regarding the Watford North curve (Rickmansworth to Croxley for Watford High Street and Watford Junction) "Reinstatement of track east of Rickmansworth to link Chiltern Line services to the Metropolitan Line Extension at Watford, enabling services between Aylesbury and Watford."

Overall, LTP4 is something of a disappointment, with an emphasis on Bus Rapid Transit in southern Herts and which we might refer to as Burning Rubber Transport (BRT). On page 31, Figure 3.10 is annotated "Strategic LTP challenges and opportunities summary." If we associate this with the photo that follows on the same page, we may find that we have a summary of LTP4, which would be sad.


LTP4 figure 3.10 annotation associated with photo that follows


South West Herts 2018 Growth and Transport Plan

In the HCC South West Herts 2018 Growth and Transport plan ( South West Herts 2018 Growth and Transport plan ), package 4 considers the St Albans to Watford corridor. Ref SM22 potentially includes a Watford Junction to St Albans City bus service to compete with the Abbey line, making use of the A405 and a new interchange on the A414. There has been a previous plan to convert the Abbey line to a bus route, for details of which visit the Abbey line rail user group Abfly website Bus Rapid Transit (opens in new window or tab). This would have required infrastructure for connection to St Albans city centre. The plan was shelved, however it seems that this Growth and Transport plan includes construction of the infrastructure that would have been integral to that plan, ref SM13, except that the conversion of the line to a bus route is not documented as part of this plan.

As from October 2019, conversion of the Abbey line to become a bus route is again being publicly planned.

A question we might naturally ask is whether the construction of an interchange on the A414 represents value for money if, in fact, the Abbey line is retained as a railway line.

On a minor point, package 5 page 27 includes "Making use of the disused railway alignment in West Watford to enable sustainable and mass transit transport opportunities." Reference SM12b.

Page 34, package 7 ref SM23a,b are two alternatives for a new bridge over the Abbey line. It is unfortunate that this was not also included as part of package 4 since that would have brought the matter to the attention of supporters of the Abbey line. It seems odd to hypothesise two alternative reasons for building a bridge, that is, building a bridge when it is unclear why the bridge is being built. How much disruption would there be to the Abbey line train service during construction ?

As a general point, there are regular cancellations of the existing service on the Abbey line, which is odd given that this used to be one of the most reliable train services in Britain, unsurprising since the service is provided by a single train with no route sharing with other services.

It is almost as if there is a deliberate plan to wind down the train service. On 19 November 2018 we had the opportunity to put some questions to a representative of the train operating company, London Northwestern Railway. We spoke to the representative with a regular London commuter whose journey commences by using the Abbey line. Before we said at which station on the line the journey commences, the representative commented that for anyone travelling to London commencing their journey at St Albans Abbey station, the company advises to use the Thameslink service instead from St Albans (City). This seems a little odd for a commercial company. When we commented that one of the conductors on board knows how to operate the service smoothly and to time, we were told that the conductor might not be following all procedures correctly.

The conversation with the representative seems to confirm our hypothesis that there is a deliberate plan to wind down the train service.

Whilst we do not know how the plan might unfold, we might envisage something approximating to this :

(i) unnecessary cancellations of the existing train service;
(ii) construction of infrastructure on the A414 for conversion of the Abbey line to become a bus route;
(iii) a range of bus services designed to abstract customers from the rail service, extensive marketing of these bus services, customer relationship management to obtain contact details;
(iv) other methods to stimulate opposition to the rail service, for example, by proposing closure of crossings;
(v) construction of a bridge over the line, unfortunately encountering difficulties, resulting in extensive if not permanent suspension of the train service;
(vi) a public consultation on conversion of the line to become a bus route, in full knowledge of how many supporters the line has;
(vii) as a result of the consultation, conversion of the line to become a bus route.

On a general point, it is known that the preferred modes of transport are (i) car, (ii) rail, (iii) bus. Therefore conversion of the Abbey line from rail to bus effectively serves to increase car utilisation, almost certainly thereby aggravating the challenge of responding to climate change.

Light rail on the Abbey line

The perspective of both the Hertfordshire Local Transport Plan and the South West Herts Growth and Transport Plan is a focus solely on Hertfordshire and yet the Abbey line forms part of the national rail network and is therefore subject to statutory protections. We would do well to ask ourselves how the ownership of this line has effectively transferred from DfT to HCC.

In 2010 DfT undertook a public consultation with a view to running light rail (trams) in place of the existing conventional rail train service.

Here is the DfT consultation document : The Future of the Abbey Line

Here is the DfT consultation report : The Future of the Abbey Line Consultation Report

It is noteworthy that DfT proposed in the consultation document not only to transfer responsibility for the line to HCC but also to remove statutory protections. We might regard this as "throwing the line over the fence" and giving it to HCC. Although the proposal for light rail was subsequently abandoned, it seems that DfT is committed to continuing with the same approach, although in recent years it has become clear that this would result in conversion to a bus route rather than to light rail.

There is much to suggest that DfT regards the Abbey line solely as a branch railway line and, requiring an operating subsidy, basically superfluous to requirements. DfT does not seem to understand anything other than politics. It certainly does not know how to design a rail network.

Our research seems to make it clear that this line belongs as part of the national rail network and more specifically within the context of east west rail in the Oxford to Cambridge arc.

Although the proposal for light rail was abandoned, this may have been purely a matter of office politics within DfT. Indeed the project may have been designed, from the outset, with the specific aim of failing in order to distract from conventional rail signalling specification taking place as part of West Coast Main Line (WCML) resignalling at Watford Junction. There is no suggestion that Andrew Adonis, who proposed light rail, would have been party to such a plan. It is now some 30 years that DfT has been making proposals that raise doubts about the future of this line.

A reasonable proposal for light rail (trams) would be from St Albans Abbey making use of the dismantled railway line to Hatfield, with a footpath and cycle track alongside, on-street running in Hatfield and probably not calling at Hatfield mainline railway station, then making use of the dismantled railway line to Hertford North, possible continuation with on-street running to Hertford East. An extension westwards via Watford to Rickmansworth, track sharing with conventional rail, might be added.

In comparison with buses on roads, this is congestion-free except for on-street running. This needs to be taken into account when comparing capital costs.

Two branches to the light rail network could be envisaged. The first would be Hertford North via Hatfield to St Albans Abbey. The second would also provide Hertford North via Hatfield with a branch off the line towards St Albans Abbey to provide a service to St Albans city centre.

Alternatives to South West Herts 2018 Growth and Transport Plan

With a Growth and Transport Plan that seems to be designed to close the Abbey line as a railway line, let us consider some alternatives.

The illustration that follows has two purposes. Firstly it is our attempt to illustrate the A414 interchange as part of the Growth and Transport Plan, together with possible bus routes to the city centre and St Albans (City) station.

Secondly it outlines some options for enhancing rail infrastructure in this area. This includes further detail in this area for the Oxford to Stevenage corridor illustrated earlier. It also includes options for extending the Abbey line to three possible alternative new stations, with trains changing direction at St Albans Abbey. The three alternative new stations are St Albans London Road, St Albans Camp Road or London Colney. The third of these is via a "Saints link", being a connection from St Albans or Saint Albans Abbey to St Pancras or Saint Pancras.

New A414 infrastructure with possible bus routes; options for Abbey line rail connections

Concerning bus routes to the city centre and St Albans (City) station, the new A414 interchange to enable this does not seem to be necessary, that is, other routes would seem to be available. This leads us to our earlier observation that the A414 interchange is, in fact, the infrastructure that would have been integral to the earlier plan to convert the Abbey line to a bus route.

Radlett Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI), also known as Radlett freight terminal, is planned currently with a south-to-west connection for access from the Midland Main Line (MML), illustrated in purple above. We have illustrated three alternatives for a rail link between Watford Junction and St Albans (City) in each case rendering unnecessary the south-to-west connection. For the southernmost of these three, Radlett SRFI is accessed via the Abbey line. For all three alternatives, there is no use of land to the east of the Midland Main Line (MML), offering the potential for part of the SRFI development to be located here with a vehicle overbridge of the MML and thus overall relocation of the SRFI further away from Watling Street residences. Clearly this would require further study and we have not assessed the feasibility of this, for example, suitability of the land. Indeed we would not wish to raise hopes for residents in the Watling Street area who are inconvenienced by the proposed SRFI.

On a north-east orientation from How Wood station on the Abbey line there used to be a rail link known as the Napsbury link and built to mainline standards. There is still evidence of it, notably the railway embankment, also bridge buttresses on Watling Street. It was provided to enable construction traffic for what is now the MML via the Abbey line, which was pre-existing at that time.

This early map shows the now-dismantled Napsbury link to the MML at Park Street. Park Street station was subsequently relocated and is shown at its former location i.e. in the vicinity of the present-day How Wood station. The map also shows the line from St Albans Abbey to Hatfield, also now dismantled.

The Victoria history of the County of Hertford Abbey Line

It is a shame that the developers of the SRFI propose to build over the dismantled Napsbury link and with no assessment of the rail network in this area. We will return to this matter in our conclusions.

Extending the Abbey line

Returning to our illustration outlining options for enhancing rail infrastructure in this area, in addition to a rail link between Watford Junction and St Albans (City), we hypothesise extension of the Abbey line to one of three possible alternative new stations. All three require trains to change direction at St Albans Abbey and make use of the dismantled line from St Albans Abbey to Hatfield.

A new station St Albans London Road might be hypothesised. The former station is still in existence on the dismantled rail alignment and a new station might be located here, or further to the west, in which case avoiding disruption to housing. A route for walking between this station and St Albans (City) would be constructed.

Alternatively, a new station St Albans Camp Road might be hypothesised, further to the east than St Albans London Road. It is unlikely that both stations would be constructed. A route for walking between this station and St Albans (City) would be available and signposted.

Alternatively, a new station London Colney (or Napsbury) might be hypothesised. It is envisaged that this would be alongside the MML, with an open question as to whether this would also become a new station stop for Thameslink services. We would certainly suggest a design that would enable this. A further question is whether this station would be located to the north or to the south of the A414. Designed as a terminus for an extension of the Watford to St Albans Abbey service, there would be no use of the existing tracks of the MML.

If a new station London Colney (or Napsbury) as a terminus for Abbey line services were also to be a station stop for Thameslink services, an Oxford to London Colney service via Aylesbury and Watford Junction would provide an interchange here with a new Thameslink service to Cambridge via London Colney. Possibly this would be the only Thameslink service to call at London Colney. This service would potentially require electrification of the Bedford to Cambridge line and which is not currently envisaged. Nevertheless, we would seem to have a viable alternative to a Watford Junction to St Albans (City) link.

If a service from Oxford terminating at London Colney ran every 30 minutes, trains would reasonably pass at Watford Junction or vicinity and at St Albans Abbey where a disused platform would be brought back into use. When a train from Watford arrives at St Albans Abbey, the service in the opposite direction to Watford would be ready to leave from St Albans Abbey. To facilitate recovery from late running, the Abbey line would reasonably be upgraded to dual track from Watford Junction until the approach to the next intermediate station, i.e. Watford North.

An additional possibility is that a southbound connection on to the MML at London Colney might be included although the only reasonable use of this would seem to be for a Thameslink service commencing at St Albans Abbey. We will give this no further consideration here although we do not wish to preclude it. In conjunction with a line northwards from St Albans Abbey, there is the potential for an MML loop line.

There is a further possibility. A northbound connection on to the MML at London Colney would provide us with an Oxford to Cambridge service via St Albans Abbey and London Colney, with trains changing direction at both of these stations. If London Colney did not provide a station stop for Thameslink services, commuters to London from London Colney would have the option of changing at St Albans (City) or at Watford. The northbound connection on to the MML might also provide the connection to Radlett SRFI, freight trains via London making use of a turnback siding.

Increasing the frequency of the Abbey line train service

The current train service is provided by a single train and, as a result, the time interval from one service to the next is a minimum of 45 minutes. There is widespread agreement that this time interval is too great. A service every 30 minutes would be desireable, however this would require two trains and of course crews for each of these trains. The operating costs thereby increase.

There has been a study by The Railway Consultancy into a passing loop at Bricket Wood, that is, the infrastructure enabling two trains to pass, thus enabling a service every 30 minutes. The study suggested the increased operating costs for two trains on the line would not be fully offset by the increase in revenue. The current service requiring a subsidy, it thus suggested the subsidy for two trains operating on the line would be greater than for a single train.

We might hypothesise that the operator of Radlett SRFI be required to pay the subsidy for this increased frequency of service. In such a case, it is unlikely that the developer of Radlett SRFI would be required to incorporate a Watford Junction to St Albans (City) link into their design, hence effectively precluding it.

We will now ask whether extending the Abbey line might provide an opportunity to increase service frequency without an increase in subsidy. That is, two trains providing a service every 30 minutes from Watford Junction with trains changing direction at St Albans Abbey to continue to one of the three possible alternative new stations. We might hope that the increased revenue arising from greater passenger utilisation of this extended service would more than offset the higher operating costs, thus reducing the subsidy. Unfortunately the timings required for two such trains might be too tight, not permitting recovery from late running. Details follow.

We suggest that there would be two drivers aboard each train who, by arrangement with the unions, would also provide the services of a conductor or customer service. Such an arrangement is thought to be in place for current services elsewhere, although we do not recall where.

On approach to St Albans Abbey where trains change direction, a driver would be located at each end of the train. Turnround at this station would occur within 2 or 3 minutes, the driver located at the rear of the train taking over the duties of driver. Assuming that the journey time from St Albans Abbey to any of the three possible alternatives for a new station is 5 minutes or less, with 16 minutes being the current journey time between Watford and St Albans, the journey time without passing another train between Watford and the new station is no more than 16 + 5 + 3 = 24 minutes, permitting 6 minutes at the terminus prior to commencement of a return service. This would seem to be workable, taking into account that there are two drivers on the train and so the procedure used at St Albans Abbey can also be used at the terminus stations. However the two trains have to pass eachother in a passing loop and this adds to the end-to-end journey time. If the time needed for the trains to pass is 3 minutes, the time available at the terminus stations prior to commencement of a return service is now 3 minutes. Whilst this is potentially workable with two drivers aboard each train, there is no time whatsoever for recovery from late running.

For completeness, the point at which the two trains pass is determined by the journey time from St Albans Abbey to the new terminus station. In some cases, it would be sufficient for trains to pass at How Wood. In other cases, where the timing is a little tighter, it would be best for trains to pass at the mid-point between How Wood and Park Street stations.

Due to the tightness of the envisaged timings, we suggest that increasing the frequency of the existing service is best studied in conjunction with a crossing over or under the WCML at Watford. With such a crossing, the Abbey line service might reasonably be extended via Watford. The locations at which trains pass on the Abbey line would be subject to study. If the line were to be extended beyond St Albans Abbey to one of three possible alternative new stations then it is possible that trains would pass at St Albans Abbey, where there is a disused second platform. If no such extension were envisaged, it is possible that trains would pass at Bricket Wood. In either case, we have eliminated the tightness of the earlier timings.

With both a link between Watford Junction to St Albans (City) and a new station on an extended Abbey line at London Colney and with this new station located to the south of the A414, there is likely to be an alternative route to St Albans Abbey as a result i.e. not via Park Street station. Park Street station serves few passengers and is also located within relatively easy walking distance of How Wood station. If Park Street station were to close, we would have a new route for the Watford to St Albans service, which would be Watford Junction, Watford North, Garston, Bricket Wood, How Wood, London Colney, St Albans Abbey. This would seem to have the potential to serve more passengers than the current service.

With a crossing over or under the WCML at Watford, the Abbey line service might reasonably be extended via Watford. We would highlight a possible all-stations-stop service between Rickmansworth and St Albans Abbey and we suggest this would be worthy of business case evaluation by Hertfordshire County Council, although it should be borne in mind not only that rail industry costs are high but also, at times, inflated.

Time to sack the Dft ?

Supporters of the Abbey line were strongly of the opinion that the abolition of the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) in 2004 would prove to be a setback as regards rail network planning. It was interesting to discover that the thinking of the editor of RAIL magazine Nigel Harris accords closely with the thinking of supporters of the Abbey line as expressed in 2004. DfT being an abbreviation for Department for Transport, "Time to sack the Dft ?" was the text on the cover of RAIL magazine issue 871 (30 January - 12 February 2019). It caught our eye in a supermarket. For those who wish to progress matters raised here, including supporters of the Abbey line, this issue of this magazine is recommended reading. (When ordering a back issue, we find no requirement to set up a direct debit : authority for a single payment should suffice.)

At the time of writing and more recently than the above issue of RAIL magazine was published, it has become fashionable to believe that all is well as regards rail network planning in England, the situation in Wales and in Scotland often being considered better in any case, where devolution serves to keep the DfT at bay. We are far from convinced that all is well in England. The current optimism takes no account of the unchanged priorities and prejudices of the DfT.

On page 44 of RAIL issue 871 we read "SRA Chairman Richard Bowker's strategic plans did provide a map to guide government and rail companies through the conflicting arguments about enhancement priorities... Aside from the North-South line, now called HS2, there's been little realistic planning since the SRA's demise following the 2004's Rail Review."

On page 46 we read "The DfT has failed not only to provide the required leadership and expertise, it has prevented others from filling this damaging vacuum."

On page 3, Nigel Harris comments "I largely blame inexpert, here-today-gone-tomorrow officials whose lumbering bureaucracy has led to stultifying micro-management which was always more about politics than policy." That comment reminded us of our suspicions regarding the way in which signalling on the Abbey line was specified. The specification occurred when supporters of the line had been invited to debate the DfT proposal for light rail on the line, referenced earlier and when the dust had far from settled on that debate. It is almost as though the DfT proposal for light rail was timed to distract from the need to agree an optimal specification for signalling on the line. We find the signalling to be rather odd. The Abbey line is a branch line connected only to the main line at Watford. When a train from St Albans Abbey arrives at Watford Junction there cannot be a train behind it, therefore following change of direction at Watford there cannot be a train in front, yet the signalling system necessitates clearance for the train to proceed from Watford to St Albans. It is almost as though the signalling has been specified in such a way as to provide the opportunity for the branch line service to be delayed, even though there is only one train on the line. Indeed such delays are occurring. Are these delays all part of a deliberate plan for an unreliable service ?

The hypothesis of Nigel Harris is that a new Strategic Rail Authority needs to be established and, for what it is worth, we are strongly in agreement.

Crossings of the Abbey line

The Cottonmill Lane crossing of the Abbey line has been proposed for closure, creating much opposition. It is extensively used by residents of Sopwell village and others for access to a retail park and which includes Sainsburys supermarket.

The plan to close this crossing was brought to the attention of both the BBC and ITV who reported it on their websites. Subsequently, Network Rail indicated that it might be possible to keep the crossing open by some minor adjustments and realignments. We find it odd that Network Rail did not detect this possibility prior to proposing closure. Of course if the adjustments and realignments were found to be ineffective, closure of the crossing would be proposed a second time, stimulating reinforced opposition, effectively opposition to the railway line.

This crossing is within walking distance of St Albans Abbey station and which itself suffers from poor accessibility. We would suggest

(1) given that Sainsburys supermarket is within the vicinity of the station but with no direct access, the provision of direct access between the supermarket and the station;
(2) the provision of access from Sopwell village and environs to the station, taking into account the possibility of extending the Abbey line as described above;
(3) as a result, review access for Sopwell Village residents and others to the retail park, given that (1) and (2) above, if combined, would provide access to the station, to Sainsburys and thereby to the retail park. This would be shorter than a path parallel to the track onto Holywell Hill and then back into the retail park via Griffiths Way. A bridge in place of the Cottonmill Lane crossing could be provided.

Nothing constructive will happen without some belief in the future of this railway line and which currently would seem to be off limits for most public officials.

Transport for London

The Abbey line falls into a gap that is neither within the scope of Transport for London (TfL) nor of the Oxford to Cambridge arc. An extension of TfL responsibilities to include this line would seem to be a reasonable proposition, possibly with a crossing over or under the WCML at Watford Junction.

New rail consortium ?

We would like to suggest that the potential for east west rail via Watford Junction be brought back within the scope of the East West Rail Consortium. Should that fail, HCC might reasonably consider the creation of a new rail consortium, scope to be determined.

We are not the only researchers to propose a station stop on High Speed 2 in the vicinity of Aylesbury, although we believe we were the first to make such a proposal. We also suggest improved rail connectivity for Camberley. These would reasonably be within the scope of an Outer London rail consortium and which would also include the Abbey line.

As part of our proposal for Aylesbury Interchange, we have proposed linking High Speed 2 to High Speed 1 via St Pancras, facilitated by a link from the MML to London Euston to create free paths (space/time slots) on the MML, for which a link between Watford Junction and St Albans (City) would seem to be a suitable candidate.

Watford Junction station

There are plans to redevelop Watford Junction. We hope these are not a further example of 1960's thinking, that is, boxing in the railway station and preventing future expansion. Thus for example Birmingham New Street was redeveloped without resolving problems with passenger flows. Specifically, we suggest there needs to be provision for east west rail at Watford.

New rail services

By making use of dismantled railway infrastructure in the Watford vicinity, we might envisage the following rail services:

(a) London Overground to Watford Junction, unchanged;
(b) London Overground to Rickmansworth;
(c) Rickmansworth all stations stop service to St Albans Abbey, possibly extended to one of three possible alternative new stations and running (at least) every 30 minutes, with trains limited in length to 4 cars as currently on the Abbey line;
(d) a regional service from Oxford via Aylesbury, Rickmansworth and Watford to Stevenage and/or Cambridge.

Garden Village

Park Street Garden Village is proposed as an alternative to Radlett SRFI. It would be helpful if the design, albeit at an early stage, were reworked to include a rail link between Watford Junction to St Albans (City) stations, possibly also a station at London Colney alongside the MML and as an extension of the Abbey line to or via St Albans Abbey, as outlined earlier.

Conclusions

There is a gap in responsibility for the Abbey line, despite the fact that this line would seem to have multiple potential roles. It would be helpful to investigate these potential roles by means of a professional assessment of this corridor. There should be no plan to convert the Abbey line to a bus route until there has been a professional assessment of this corridor.

HCC would do well to review its plans to build an A414 interchange at Park Street since it seems to be designed for bus services to compete with the Abbey line and then to facilitate conversion of the railway line to become a bus route. A better plan would be to investigate east west rail at Watford, potentially a Rickmansworth to St Albans Abbey service.

We would suggest that the gap in responsibility for the Abbey line has indirectly resulted in rendering invalid the current design for Radlett SRFI, noting that it builds over the dismantled Napsbury rail link and without assessment. Certainly it would be reasonable for the proposers of Radlett SRFI to redesign their proposed development to include a rail link from Watford Junction to St Albans (City) and to finance its construction. Radlett SRFI should not proceed until there has been a professional assessment of the Watford to St Albans transport corridor.

It makes sense to consider the future of the Abbey line within the context of the Oxford to Cambridge arc.

We have also outlined a potential light rail (tram) service between Hertford North and St Albans Abbey stations with a branch serving St Albans city centre.

 

By way of reminder : as stated earlier, the Oxford to Stevenage corridor is discussed in our review Oxford to Cambridge by rail : southern options for the central section

The views expressed in this review are those of RailEnable.

Comments are welcome.

Limited on-site investigations have been conducted in relation to this article.

Our current proposals, projects and articles are listed here : List of articles

 

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