Although the planned extension of the London Underground’s Met line in Watford was cancelled in 2018, the local councils have appointed a team to look at alternative options for making use of the abandoned route.

The cancelled rail link proposal

Working with Hertfordshire County Council, Watford Borough Council, Three Rivers District Council and Network Rail, Watford Council has appointed Atkins, SYSTRA UK and Wood Group to work on ideas for opening up the link.

The defunct Metropolitan Line Extension (MLX) was recently rebranded as the Watford To Croxley Link (W2CL), and a number of options were explored last year. These ranged from a rail shuttle, with or without a link to London, or linking the route to the Abbey line and converting that into a tram service.

The transport link could connect areas of Watford such as the town centre, the hospital, Watford FC and Croxley Park with Croxley Green and Watford Junction and the travel network beyond.

Watford Council and Networks Rail have also committed to protecting the land that provides a link from Croxley to Watford Junction until plans are drawn up, so the land will still be available for the transport link, if it’s approved.

A budget of £275k has been set aside for the consultancy work. This comes from Hertfordshire County Council’s Highways and Transport budget and Watford Borough Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money, which is raised from new developments to support the delivery of infrastructure (such as travel and transport) in the town.

Phil Bibby, Executive Member for Highways and Transport at Hertfordshire County Council, said “As well as this link between Watford and Croxley, we are exploring options for upgrading the Watford to St Albans Abbey Line, and working on plans for a new HERT rapid transit system that will connect Hemel Hempstead to Harlow.”

Concept designs from the three companies will be submitted by Spring 2023 and then a Strategic Outline Case (including business feasibility) will be developed to support future bids for funding opportunities to deliver the project.

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22 comments
  1. Tom Smith says:

    Hard to believe such an obviously beneficial yet very small project is still stuck. It will be a game-changer for so many: enabling intercity journeys bypassing central London, putting Watford town centre on the Metropolitan line and various onward suburban connections via Watford Junction.

    • James Miller says:

      I think there are possibilities and hopefully professional consultants will suggest them.

      If you look at a decent map, the Abbey Line and the Overground route between Watford Junction and Watford High Street line up.

      I wonder, if a tram train could be run between Cassiobridge and St. Albans Abbey. A passing loop would probably give at least 2 tph.

      I believe that given the dive-unders built in the last few years, that one could be dug under the WCML.

      It would need a dual-voltage tram-train, but I’m sure Stadler could create one.

      I also believe that the cost of the massive viaduct did for the project, along with a lack of support from Khan. Why would he support it anyway, as it’s not in South London?

  2. Ashok Shah says:

    Why is Abbots Langley being left alone and being cut off.

    • ianVisits says:

      What makes you think any of these proposals would affect a village on the opposite side of Watford?

    • James Tuck says:

      Probably because Kings Langley station is a short walking distance away at the bottom of the road and under the bridge. From there you can get directly to Euston in 30 minutes or to Watford Junction in under 10. Why would there be any need to build a tube line extension to Abbots Langley?

  3. Doug Robinson says:

    The most glaringly obvious choice would be to offer the route to Chiltern Railways. It would be similar to their link at Bicester that allowed them to run trains to Oxford from Marylebone Station. If they took over the project, they could run a limited stops service via Harrow on The Hill into London, plus the option to connect Aylesbury to Watford.

    • Phill Mason says:

      Chiltern wouldn’t want it, there is insufficient capacity at Marylebone as it is. It was also require Watford South Junction between Rickmansworth and Moor Park to be re-profiled, unless there was some sort of flying junction every Chiltern train would conflict with the Metropolitan Line, so it would be an absolute nightmare operationally. So I’m afraid it’s not going to happen.

  4. Matthew Randall says:

    Why close watford station a great way to London more infrastructure.

  5. Matthew Randall says:

    This council at watford and mayor need to go ,we need more buses trains and infrastructure, a bus route to watford Station a must.

    • James Miller says:

      A bus route to Watford station is not sexy and will probably annoy anybody with a car.

  6. grantpe says:

    So, if a Met Line extension is no longer considered possible, shall we get to adding step free access to Watford Met station? (you take a look and realise building a new line might be simpler)

    Maybe time to admit Watford ought to be a London Borough. Anyone outside the home counties thinks it’s London as it’s inside the M25.

  7. Keith says:

    It’s a pity that the Met Line extension isn’t still being considered. Given the recent TFL deal I expect any re-considering would require some funding from Watford Borough Council or another part of local government.

    With most of the route still in place presumably the most complicated and expensive part is at the Croxley end where a bridge/viaduct over the A412 would be required. Presumably if they were able to alter the line the existing Watford station and some of the track space could then be sold to recoup some money.

    It would certainly help make traveling around London a bit easier if you could join the Met line at Watford Junction

    • TRT says:

      The existing Watford Met station was proposed as crew and stabling. There are 8 (IIRC) stabling spaces there.

  8. Interesting says:

    Having the Croxley Rail link as part of a separate Herts rapid transit system along with the Abbey Line and potentially others is the best way forward IMO. It can be easily integrated with the Underground but under the control of Hertfordshire local government instead of TfL. Croxley could be the transfer station between the two transit modes.

  9. Adam Edwards says:

    When HS2 has removed all the longer distance trains off the main line through Watford, more trains can stop at Watford junction and this extension then opens up easy interchange to save people the hassle of travelling into the middle of London and back out again. A Watford to Amersham route would be useful too.
    Suggestions of linking the Abbey Flyer route will probably be much more challenging given the cost of a bridge over the main line so I would guess more likely that will stay separate. The plan for trams envisaged the trams going on street into the centre of Watford and St Albans which would be a better bet for that route.
    How this all gets funded I don’t know as it’s in Herts but the main benefit is to London. So hard to justify as a Herts project and London cannot afford it anymore.

  10. Roger ROWLEY says:

    Has anyone thought of a monorail service between Watford and Watford junction as the speed of this can be huge

  11. Becky Kennedy says:

    We’d love to see the MLX actually put into place – we moved to our house just off Vicarage Road when the so-called ‘Health Campus’ plans were in place. We were told there would be affordable key-worker flats built around the stadium, new hospital buildings to replace the dilapidated ones we (still) have, and community space for sports and relaxation. And above all, the hospital and football grounds would be well served by transport links from London that would see a station just a couple of minutes’ walk away.

    What we have now is around 1000 new homes planned, which means no community space, no money promised for hospital buildings (although they demolished the community space we did have, the 140-year-old Farm Terrace allotments, despite the High Court’s ruling, to build a car park), a proposed primary school that weirdly never seems to have materialised on any actual plans, and dwindling bus routes.

    Just once, I’d like to see Watford Council give consideration to the residents of West Watford, which is the most densely populated area in Hertfordshire, and give us transport links that serve two of the busiest places in the town (the football stadium and the hospital), and one of the poorer and more public services-reliant demographics. Any new home in West Watford is built on the council’s ludicrous assertion that ‘they won’t be bought by people with cars’ and therefore has no parking space or permit allocated, despite the fact that practically everyone then comes and parks on the pavements of the surrounding area. We desperately need better public transport so we can definitively say the new housing is commuter housing.

    But our council is all too willing to accept developers’ claims that it’s too expensive to make the statutory 30-odd% of new homes affordable, and pockets a lip-service payment worth the price of about 3 homes in their 100-house development instead.

  12. Javeed khan says:

    I travel to central London from Watford metropolitan line cause the cost from junction station is way too high. When it gets closed I will be traveling from WATFORD junction again and i ll cost me about £23/day. People who make these plans are not here for us nor they support us. People are struggling to pay their food,bill etc.

  13. Jeremy Nathan says:

    It’s a total farce that nearly 100 years after the Metropolitan Line reached the outskirts of Watford it still doesn’t go to the town centre despite that always being the intention & continuing to Watford Junction & now it seems that it will never happen.If Watford had been in Greater London the extension would have been built many years ago but the project has been derailed at every attempt as it has been used as a political football.Although a tram or bus link will help connectivity a little bit it won’t be anywhere near as attractive or effective as the cancelled MLX would have been as people want a direct service & most won’t bother using it if they’ve got to change services during their journey.

  14. Arek says:

    I will be honest. The incompetence of the authorities in this matter knows no bounds, so that for 20 years I would not build a line connecting Croxley with Watford J, and I would even be tempted to do St. Albans. there is room to connect and 300% it will be profitable. So it’s only the authorities’ fault that it didn’t happen. here you do not have to demolish city streets or anything else, there is only a place to build

  15. Ali says:

    Reality is the pressure is on Watford as Many Londoners are moving there! many apartments are being built and Watford looks like a London Borough and attracts many first time buyers from London. They should look at this project as an investment for the future I personally use my car to get to London daily as the Current underground station is far from my house however if there was a connection by Watford junction I would use it! Ken Livingstone made plans so did Boris unfortunately Khan doesn’t have the same vision, Khan Implemented certain plans in London to cut pollution and blocked certain roads off what now means you have to spend an extra 20 mins plus in traffic! i am still trying to understand how spending longer in the car and in ques of traffic lead to cleaner air! but unfortunately Londoners have voted for him! and must put up with him until they wake up

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