Croxley Rail Link
Croxley Rail Link
The disused line at Watford West railway station.
|Status||Approved for re-opening|
|Opening||January 2016 (Proposed)|
|Operator(s)||Transport for London|
|Line length||3.4 mi (5.47 km)|
|Railways of Watford and Rickmansworth|
The Croxley Rail Link is a railway engineering project in Watford and the Three Rivers district, Hertfordshire, outside London, UK, to re-route part the London Underground Metropolitan line. The project will divert the Watford branch line services beyond Croxley away from Watford Met station to Watford Junction; a new railway line will be constructed on a viaduct over the Grand Union Canal/River Gade and the A412 road and a stretch of disused railway track will be re-opened to run trains through Watford High Street. As a result of the diverted route, it has been decided to close Watford Met to passengers and to run all services on the branch to Watford Junction.
The main exponent of the scheme is Hertfordshire County Council, supported by Transport for London (TfL) which owns the Watford branch. The proposed route was featured in a Transport for London network map for 2016 and the Transport for London Indicative 2025 Transport Map on which Watford tube station does not appear.
When the Croxley Rail Link is built, direct services into Watford Junction from Amersham would also be possible, conceivably linking the commercial centre of Watford to the new developments in Aylesbury, as well as providing the Chilterns with transport connections, via the Junction, to the north and other destinations.
The project was approved by the Government on 14 December 2011. Construction work is scheduled to start in June 2014 and be finished by January 2016. Final approval was given on 24 July 2013.
The location of London Underground's Watford station close to Cassiobury Park is peripheral to Watford town centre. The Metropolitan Railway originally intended to extend the branch into central Watford via a tunnel under Cassiobury Park to a terminus on the High Street. Watford station was constructed at a low level to allow for the construction of a cut-and-cover tunnel across the park, and in 1927 the MR purchased 44 High Street, opposite Clarendon Road, with the intention of converting it into the booking hall of Watford Central tube station. Watford Urban District Council, who had bought parts of the Cassiobury Estate from the Earl of Essex to create Cassiobury Park, objected to the proposal to drive a railway across the park. The project was cancelled and the terminus of the Watford branch remained on the southern side of the park, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) from the town centre and 44 Watford High Street is now The Moon Under Water public house.
The single-track Watford and Rickmansworth Railway (WRR), a branch of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) opened in 1862 between Watford Junction and Rickmansworth (Church Street). In 1912 the LNWR opened a second branch to Croxley Green and although part of the route ran close to the Metropolitan Line (about 200 metres), the lines were not linked. The LNWR line came under the ownership of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) in 1923 and British Rail in 1948. Throughout this time, passenger numbers were low and the former WRR lines were run down; British Rail withdrew passenger services from the Rickmansworth branch in 1952 and ran a skeleton service on the Croxley Green branch until 1996, when both branches were closed.
The London Transport Executive (LTE), part of the British Transport Commission considered options for the Metropolitan Line in 1948. It considered what to do with the Watford property which had been acquired for the abandoned tunnel scheme and proposed linking the Metropolitan to the BR Croxley Green branch line. A similar proposal was put forward by London Regional Transport (LRT) around 1994; an adapted version of the tube map for internal planning purposes printed that year shows a projected route via Watford West and Watford High Street to Watford Junction. Because the line lay entirely within Hertfordshire, it was championed by the county council who lobbied for funding from LRT (later TfL) and the Department for Transport for 16 years.
In 2005 Transport for London (TfL) tentatively committed to providing up to £18m of the estimated cost of £65m, predicting that the link would be operational by 2010. Difficulties arose in securing the remaining funding from the Department for Transport and a revised project submission, under new guidelines, was prepared, with a view to obtaining Programme Entry status. A business case was submitted to the DfT in February 2008, with revised costs of £95m. This was rejected in March on the basis that no guarantee of financial backing had been received from TfL.
The project took a major step forward in July 2008 when the East of England Regional Assembly declared it a "priority" among transport policies and agreed to contribute £119.5m towards the estimated cost, now £150m. Hertfordshire County Council agreed to allocate £25.8m which it hoped to recover through ticket sales and other London Underground revenue. It was predicted that the link could be operational within seven years.
Stuart Pile, executive member for highways, transport and rural affairs, said:
"I'm delighted that the regional assembly will be pushing the Government to fund these schemes. We need to invest in our transport infrastructure if we’re going to support our economy and reduce congestion. The Department for Transport bases its funding decisions on the regional advice, so we’re optimistic that we'll get the go-ahead and that the line can open in 2017."
A revised business case was produced in autumn 2009 and the costs and scope reviewed. Following the coalition's Comprehensive Spending Review the project was placed in the pre-qualification pool and a further submission made to the Department for Transport in January 2011. In February 2011 the Department for Transport placed the project into a qualification pool of works that would be subjected to further assessments in order to bid for funding. A Best and Final Funding Bid was submitted to the Department in September 2011. On 14 December 2011, the Department for Transport agreed to fund £76.2m of the £115.9m cost, with the remainder from the local authorities (£33.7m) and third parties (£6.86m).
Route and proposed services
A key part of the Croxley Rail Link project will be the construction of the "missing link", a short line of track connecting the existing Metropolitan line to the former British Rail Croxley Green branch line at their closest point. This will involve installing a new junction near Baldwins Lane, about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) north-east of Croxley station, and building a new viaduct and bridge to carry the Metropolitan line over the A412 Watford Road dual carriageway and the Grand Union Canal to the former BR line. New double track will be laid along the disused trackbed, reinstating the line as far as Watford High Street; from this point, Underground trains will share track with London Overground trains along the Watford DC Line to the Watford Junction terminus.
Although the route will run along a re-opened stretch of track, none of the former BR stations which closed in 1996 are to be re-opened, Instead, they are to be replaced by two newly constructed stations which will be situated close to the old station sites: Croxley Green station will be replaced by Cassiobridge (formerly to be called Ascot Road). and a second new station, Watford Vicarage Road, will be built on Vicarage Road to replace both Watford West and the football specials halt, Watford Stadium. Both will have full Underground facilities with the exception of a staffed ticket office; ticket machines are to be available instead.
Watford Friends of the Earth commented on the siting of the stations:
"The Croxley Rail Link has a valuable role to play in access to the football ground and hospital. A new station on the Croxley Rail Link to serve the football ground and hospital is a better option than refurbishing the station on Tolpits Lane, which is currently the preferred choice of Watford Council's consultants."
Summary of stations on the route:
|Watford High Street||existing|
|Watford Stadium||remaining closed||Area to be served by Watford Vicarage Road|
|Watford Vicarage Road||new station|
|Watford West||remaining closed||Area to be served by Watford Vicarage Road|
|Croxley Green||remaining closed||Area to be served by Cassiobridge|
Closure of Watford tube station
Transport for London have stated that passenger services on the Metropolitan Line from Croxley to Watford will cease when the Croxley Rail Link opens in 2016; Watford Met station will close, although the short branch may remain in operation as a reversing siding. Following closure, the nearest station to Watford Met will be Cassiobridge, approximately 1.3 kilometres (0.81 mi) away. The plan to close the station has been the subject of some local opposition, and campaigners have argued for a reduced shuttle service to be operated on the branch.
The decision to end services on part of the line and to close a station requires a formal closure process involving London TravelWatch. The London TravelWatch Board has set up the Watford Station Closure Panel whose members are David Liebling, the vice chair of TravelWatch and the representative for London on the Board of Passenger Focus; Gail Engert, chair of the Transport Services Committee of TravelWatch; and David Barry, chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee of TravelWatch.[excessive detail?] The panel held a public meeting in Watford on 14 June 2012 to present arguments to TfL against the station closure.
A further proposal is to use the existing but seldom-used Metropolitan line chord which allows trains to run from Watford towards Amersham via Rickmansworth. In conjunction with the Croxley Rail Link, this route would allow the operation of direct services between Watford Junction and Amersham.thus improving local public transport in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The proposal was included in a Greengauge 21 report 'Capturing the Benefits of HS2 on Existing Lines'. The report proposes that High Speed Two would increase capacity on the West Coast Mainline, increasing the benefits of an Amersham Link to The Croxley Link. The benefits of which for Metropolitan Line services would be greatly increased by the substantial intensification of service that is planned for Watford Junction. This could also support a new service from Aylesbury and other London to Aylesbury Line destinations to Watford Junction."
Although Ascot Road was initially chosen by consultants on the project, many local people and councillors have felt that the name does not reflect the area and also that the name may get confused with Ascot in Berkshire. Cassiobridge has been suggested due to historical connections with the area and because of a bridge over the Grand Union Canal. There is also a dispute over stations being named after roads.
The proposed route runs close to the Watford Health Campus, a major new development of Watford General Hospital that will include a hotel and retail, business and residential developments. Promoters of this development believe that the new rail link will increase the need for public transport and will provide potential custom for new services, and the Health Campus project expresses support for the project on its website.
Initial work and construction
After the appointment of Taylor Woodrow in May 2013 for design and construction of the rail link, initial on-site work began in June. This first involved four to six people carrying out ecological surveys, with some vegetation had to be cleared for access. Main construction work is expected to begin in 2014. The final approval was given on 24 July 2013 with the Transport and Works Act Order.
Watford High Street station
The route at Croxley Green station
An outside view of Watford tube station
- "Croxley Rail Link". Croxley Rail Link. Archived from the original on 2010-09-14.
- "Station Closure Process". Croxley Rail Link. 2012-02-23. Archived from the original on 2012-03-23.
- Wood, John (March 2006). "Hertfordshire's Local Transport Plan 2006/07 – 2010/1" (PDF). Hertfordshire County Council. p. 22. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
- "West Watford Transport Plan" (PDF). Hertfordshire County Council. 2004-05-25. p. 46. Archived from the original on 2005-02-24. see section 6.3.6
- "Croxley Rail Link". Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2008-12-02.
- "A Proposed London Transport Map for 2016 featuring the Croxley Rail Link" (PDF). The Guardian. 2004-07-05. Archived from the original on 2004-09-21.
- "A Transport for London 2025 Indicative Transport Map showing the Croxley Rail Link". 2007-06-01. Archived from the original on 2013-08-06.
- Binnie, Adam; Wright, Mike (2011-12-13). "Croxley Rail Link plan approved by Government". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-08-05.
- "Best and final funding bid: Croxley Rail Link" (PDF). Croxley Rail Link. September 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-03-26.
- "Watford Metropolitan line Tube extension gets go-ahead". BBC News. 2013-07-24. Archived from the original on 2013-07-26.
- Horne, Mike (2003). The Metropolitan Line: an Illustrated History. Capital Transport Publishing. pp. 39–40. ISBN 1854142755.
- Wolmar, Christian (2009). The Subterranean Railway How the London Underground Was Built and How it Changed the City Forever. London: Atlantic Books Ltd. ISBN 9781848872530.
- "Watford to Croxley Green". West Watford History Group. Archived from the original on 2013-08-07.
- Horne, p.96
- Garland, Ken (1994-12-05). Mr Beck's Underground Map. Harrow Weald: Capital Transport Publishing. p. 63. ISBN 1-85414-168-6. OCLC 32915967.
- "Scheme Development Report" (PDF). Steer Davies Gleave. September 2011. Archived from the original on 2013-08-07.
- "Croxley Rail Link project on track". Transport for London. 2005-02-10. Archived from the original on 2009-05-08.
- "Rail link a step closer". Watford Observer. 2008-02-02. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
- "Croxley Rail Link hits the Sidings". Watford Observer. 2008-03-29. Archived from the original on 2011-01-21.
- "Watford Tube link gets the go-ahead". Construction News. 2008-07-21. Archived from the original on 2010-08-25.
- "Rail link cost spirals". Watford Observer. 2008-07-10. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
- "Rail link plans get support". Watford Observer. 2008-08-09. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.
- Hnizdo, Filip (2009-05-28). "Croxley Rail Link 'complete by 2014'". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2012-04-05.
- Pickard, Michael (2011-02-08). "Croxley Rail Link fight 'far from over'". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2012-03-23.
- "Local Authority Majors, Development Pool Schemes, Scheme Decisions" (PDF). Department for Transport. 2011-12-14. Archived from the original on 2012-04-25.
- "Map of the Croxley Rail Link". Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2011-05-28.
- Wright, Mike (2013-06-07). "Names in the frame for new Croxley Rail Link stations in Watford". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-06-07.
- "Vicarage Road approved by Transport for London for Croxley Rail Link's West Watford station name". Watford Observer. 2013-08-08. Archived from the original on 2013-08-09.
- "DfT Expression of Interest - Submission for Funding" (PDF). Department for Transport. 2011-02-09. Archived from the original on 2011-06-01.
- "Watford West station design" (PDF). Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30.
- "The future for Watford's hospital?". Watford Friends of the Earth. Archived from the original on 2007-10-24.
- Wright, Mike (2013-08-21). "Watford Met Station campaigners: 'There is no reason for it to close'". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-09-01.
- "Watford Station Closure Panel". London Travel Watch. Archived from the original on 2013-08-05.
- Wright, Mike (2012-06-15). "Transport bosses hear arguments to keep Watford Met station open". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2012-06-18.
- "Chiltern Railways". Rail Saver. Archived from the original on 2008-02-08. "If the Croxley Rail link gets the go ahead from TfL and Hertfordshire County Council, direct services into Watford Junction from Amersham will be likely..."
- "Capturing the benefits of HS2 on existing lines" (PDF). Greengauge21. 2011-02-17. Archived from the original on 2012-03-13.
- Wright, Mike (2013-07-22). "Croxley Rail Link: Politicians lobby TFL over West Watford station name". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-08-05.
- "Transport Improvements". Watford Health Campus website. Archived from the original on 2009-12-16.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Croxley Rail Link.|
- "Croxley Rail Link Public Consultation website". Croxley Rail Link.
- "Croxley Rail Link". Transport for London. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
- "Croxley Link". Always Touch Out. 2006-08-29.
- "Google Maps". Google. diagram of the proposed link
- Carto.Metro map of the Croxley Rail Link
- "Disused Stations: Croxley Green". Subterranea Britannica. 2004-11-05. - photos of the disused line
- "London's Abandoned Stations - Croxley Green branch". Abandoned Stations.
- "An insight into the history of the branch line and its demise as well as photographs of the derelict line today". Underground History.
- "A Blog Containing up to date details on the progress of the Line". London Reconnections.