A new Watford Junction to Aylesbury rail service, along with a new link between Stevenage and Luton are two of the proposals being put forward by Hertfordshire Council.

Although the council doesn’t have any direct powers over rail services, having a public policy document helps when they respond to wider issues, such as franchise awards.

The current rail strategy was written in 2016, when the Metropolitan line extension was still going ahead, but in light of that cancellation and other developments, the council has decided to review the document. A key aim is to improve the speed and regularity of the services, with an aspiration for at least four trains per hour in each direction from all stations on all routes serving London.

However, the biggest transformation is focused on Watford Junction station, which is already straining to cope with the 8.7 million passengers per year that it handles.

The council suggests taking advantage of the opening of HS2, which will release substantial amounts of regional capacity by diverting the intercity traffic onto the HS2 line.

Apart from service improvements, in terms of infrastructure, they want a new rail link to the Chiltern Line to provide direct services to Rickmansworth and Aylesbury. That largely replicates the cancelled Metropolitan line extension route, but uses mainline railway services instead of London Underground.

The station would also be an interchange with the council’s proposed Mass Rapid Transit service, which is still in the development phase, and could be anything from increased bus services to a light-rail or tram line. That line would also help to overcome a major weakness in the area, in that the rail network is radial – namely in and out of the city, with little for people wanting to go sideways around the city.

One of the other proposals calls for a new rail link between Stevenage and Luton, which would provide a connection between the East Coast and Midland Main Lines. Fortunately, the railways are also next to undeveloped land just to the south of the two towns, making the connection technically viable, if the costs can be justified.

As well as providing new rail opportunities across the two main lines, it would directly link the two towns with a combined population of over 300,000 and Luton Airport.

The draft document is here.

The draft rail study will be part of a public consultation on 6th January 2020.


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  1. James Miller says:

    It looks like Hertfordshire County Council have been reading my blog. Or did we both propose an obvious solution?

    The route of the proposed Croxley Rail Link would be built.

    I suspect that it might be possible to provide a link between Watford High Street and Croxley stations, that could handle four trains per hour in both directions with a single track viaduct to make the project more affordable. The stations at Cassiobridge and Vicarage Road could be island ones, between the two tracks.

    I would use battery powered trains, that would charge using London Under/Overground’s system where available. Aylesbury and Amersham is only fifteen miles and I’m sure both Bombardier and Stadler to name but two, could handle both ways under battery power.

    This was my original post!


    • jason leahy says:

      New battery trains have ranges of around 100 km e.g. Vivarail Class 230 60 mile range,made from refurbished 1972 ex-London Underground D78 stock trains.
      One problem with most new hydrogen and battery trains except the Class 230 train,is the hydrogen fuel tanks and batteries are mounted in the roofs,this makes the loading gauge,height of the trains roofs too high for the UK’s structure gauge,ceiling height of bridges and tunnels,which is lower than on the Continent due to early steam engines being small,the structure gauge of bridges can be increased by raising the bridges or lowering the tracks,often needed for electrification to fit the overhead cables but for tunnels must be very expensive and need new bigger tunnels to be dug to avoid line closures,the low structure and loading gauge is why existing trains are being converted to run on hydrogen and why double decker trains are not used,Aeroliner 3000 double decker train design is British loading gauge compliant.

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