The Anonymous Widower

The Met Line’s Croxley Rail Link May Be Resurrected

tThe title of this post,  is the same as that of this article on Ian Visits.

 

I wrote Is The Croxley Rail Link To Be Given Lower Priority? in December 2016, where I said this.

I think that it is time to take a short time of reflection to look at this project and see, if other developments in the future, can improve rail links to Watford sufficiently.

After reviewing projects that will happen in the area, I asked set out two sections with my ideas for improvement, which I will now repeat.

Could A Lower-Cost Link Be Built?

I ask this question, specifically because of the report that TfL had said no, because the project is over-budget.

Ideally, the link would be built as a double track line from Watford High Street station, to where it joins the double-track branch to the current Watford station.

I have flown my helicopter over the route and there would appear to be a fair bit of space for a double -track line.

But there might be a couple of problems.

This picture, which I took going South, shows the bridge, where the Croxley Rail Link will join the Watford DC Line.

It looks fairly sound, but is it large enough for two tracks? I could see the next bridge and that was a modern structure with a lot more space.

Note too, the evidence of clearing up decades of tree growth.

But look at this Google Map of where the Croxley Rail Link will connect to the branch to Watford station.

Note the branch to Watford station at the top left of the map and the remains of the old railway in the bottom-right, which can also be seen in the map of Cassiobridge station.

It could be difficult to thread a double-track viaduct through the area.

This visualisation from the Watford Observer shows current thinking.

So would money be saved and perhaps a better design be possible?

  • Could the viaduct be built with only a single-track between its junction with the branch to Watford station and the proposed Cassiobridge station? The route could revert to double track just to the East of Cassiobridge station.
  • A single-track design of Cassiobridge station could also save money, but it would probably rule out too many future options.

As most of the route will be double-track, I doubt that a few hundred metres of single-track would have much impact on the operation of the link. It’s not as if, the Croxley Rail Link will be handling 24 tph.

I suspect that engineers and architects are working hard both to cut costs and make the link better.

A Watford Junction To Amersham Service

I think that if there is a good service between Watford Junction and Amersham, this might  offer an alternative solution.

It would connect to London trains as follows.

  • Watford Junction – Bakerloo, London Midland, Southern, Watford DC and possible West Coast Main Line services.
  • Watford High Street – Cross-platform connection to Watford DC services.
  • Croxley – Same platform connection to Metropolitan services to the existing Watford station.
  • Rickmanswoth – Chiltern for both London and all stations to Milton Keynes.

I believe that a train like London Overground’s new Class 710 train, which will be running on the Watford DC Line might be able to run the service without any new electrification, it it were to use onboard energy storage between say Watford High Street and Croxley stations.

Conclusion

I believe that Watford will get a better train service, whether the Croxley Rail Link is built or not.

Politics will decide the priority of the Croxley Rail Link, with the left-leaning South Londoner Sadiq Khan on one side and right-leaning Bucks-raised Chris Grayling on the other. In some ways, Watford is a piggy-in-the-middle.

My feeling is that on a Londonwide  basis, that the Bakerloo Line Extension to Watford, solves or enables the solution of a lot of wider problems and the Croxley Rail Link is much more a local solution.

I think it could turn out to be.

  • A mainly double-track route from Watford Junction to Amersham, but with portions of single track.
  • No new electrification.
  • Stations at Watford High Street, Watford Vicarage Road, Cassiobridge, Croxley and then all stations to Amersham.
  • Four Class 710 trains per hour (tph), running on existing electrification and batteries between Watford Junction and Amersham.
  • A redeveloped Watford station keeps its four tph to London.

It might even be simpler.

Conclusion – 10th November 2020

This is a new conclusion.

I feel something is possible, but it probably needs some of difficult negotiation, with some of the politicians excluded.

November 10, 2020 - Posted by | Transport | , ,

6 Comments »

  1. This, like the southward extension of the Uckfield line to Lewes, is one of those no-brainers that makes you wonder why on earth they don’t just get on with it instead of faffing around with much more complex pie-in-the-sky rail schemes. With modern signalling, a relatively short section of single track, eg on the viaduct, shouldn’t be a problem and use of electro-diesel or electric/battery-powered MUs will provide more flexibility and lower costs.

    Excluding politicians from transport projects is going to be a challenge. However, I don’t think Sadiq Khan’s Tooting roots really make much difference to his decision-making. From my position in South London I haven’t seen any evidence that we’re getting any more consideration than we did under Boris Johnson or Ken Livingstone. North London still rules the roost when it comes to London’s transport.

    Comment by Stephen Spark | November 10, 2020 | Reply

    • We seem to have lost a lot of bus routes in the North. The no-brainer in Hackney is the Hall Farm Curve. No sign of that!

      Comment by AnonW | November 10, 2020 | Reply

  2. Given the present problems TFL have and political differences perhaps it might be better to put tge extension of the Metropolitan Line to one side and for Hertfordshire County Council to concentrate on delivering the Watford Junction to Amersham/ Chesham link via DFT funding for reopening of closed lines .

    It’s worth remembering that while TFL ordered an extra S Stock train for the diversion of Metropolitan Line from Watford to Watford Junction tge time that’s now elapsed since this project was planned means that obtaining additional S Stock trains for above link means use of class 710: trains is likely only option.

    Simply leave the Metropolitan Line at Watford (M) until above project has been funded and delivered and then reconsider if diversion of Metropolitan Line could follow on !

    Comment by Melvyn | November 10, 2020 | Reply

    • Now that it looks like Chiltern won’t be going to Milton Keynes via Aylesbury, perhaps Chiltern should get a connection to Watford Junction.

      I think Chiltern are key to what happens.

      Comment by AnonW | November 10, 2020 | Reply

  3. The critics of MLX say it would be devastating. Hyperbole surely? The advantages to a greater amount of people surely outways the disadvantages to the IMBYs (in my back yard). It is only those living north of Cassiobury Park that would be the real losers. If you draw a 1km radius around all MLX stations (not too far to walk? Surely we don’t want people driving?) the area cover a much larger part of Watford, and that’s before you factor in the much better transport links, e.g. with trains at Watford Junction northwards.

    Comment by David Shales | December 4, 2020 | Reply

  4. I have never had a use for the MLX, except to go to occasional matches at Vicarage Road, when Ipswich have played there.

    But, I have had dealings with a senior guy in an A & E Unit. When, his hospital got a much improved bus service, several things happened.

    1. The hospital started to receive a much smaller number of complaints about parking.

    2. Patients had a better attendance record for appointments.

    3. The pattern of A & E patients arriving under their own steam changed.

    His experience and other things I have seen on read, have convinced me, that all hospitals should have the best public transport links possible.

    I have the best of both worlds, in that I can catch a frequent bus from within a hundred metres of my front door to the best A & E in North London.

    So in my book, a station is needed to give rail access to Watford General Hospital.

    Comment by AnonW | December 4, 2020 | Reply


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