The Anonymous Widower

Could Tram-Trains Jump The Gap In Hertford?

One of the problems in the UK’s network is towns with two stations, that are badly connected. Often this is because two companies built competing rail lines to the town.

I went to Hertford to see how the town was laid out with respect to the stations.

These pictures were taken as I arrived in Hertford North station and walked through the town centre to Hertford East station.

Apart from a nice walk, there was a serious point to my visit in that as part of the East-West Rail Link, the two stations could be connected. This section on the Hertford East station Wikipedia entry explains.

Some options of the proposed East West Rail Link involve reopening a route between Hertford East railway station and Hertford North railway station; however a 2009 discussion paper noted that while “the new connection appears technically feasible, doubts must be cast over its public acceptability and deliverability.

I don’t think it will happen, as it will stop all the development of expensive flats and houses at Hertford East station.

It is worthwhile looking at the Google Earth image of the town.

Hertford And Its Two Stations

Hertford And Its Two Stations

The town centre is indicated by the red arrow and the rail icons can be seen at Hertford North on the Hertford Loop Line going north-south at the left of the image, and Hertford East at the right.

To answer my original question, I can’t imagine tram-trains ever be given permission to either run through the town-centre or across Hartham Common, but surely creating a connection to go north at Hertford North station, would need a rail engineer, with all the skills of Harry Potter, to lift the trains onto the viaduct.

At the east of the town, the train travelled under the A10 road as it crossed the Lea Valley on the Kingsmead Viaduct, which had to be built due to the nature of the terrain in the area. Any new rail line would have the same problem of both turning north and getting up the escarpment, which is heavily populated.

There used to be an extension of the Hertford East Branch, that appears to have left the branch before Hertford East station and then went across country to join the Hertford Loop Line north of Hertford. The line has been so built on, that Google Earth shows no trace. This is the Google Earth image of the land to the north of Hertford.

Across Hertford

Across Hertford

You can see the Hertford Loop at the left of the image and you can also see the Hertford East Branch crossing under the A10 road at the right.

As the report says it would appear to be technically feasible to thread a railway between the two railways, but you can see why doubts on public acceptibility and deliverability have been raised. The only thing in the enginers’ favour is that you already have the ugly Kingsmead Viaduct across the Lea Valley, so perhaps  you might be able to create a better solution.

Probably the only other way a connection could be made, would be to have a tunnel under Hartham Common, which then turned north underground before surfacing along the Hertford Loop Line north of the town. Even with advances in tunnelling technology and affordability, it would still be a very expensive project.


March 6, 2015 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , ,

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