Croxley Rail Link
Croxley Rail Link
The disused line at Watford West railway station.
|Status||Approved for re-opening|
|Opened||January 2016 (Proposed)|
|Operator(s)||Transport for London|
|Line length||3.4 mi (5.47 km)|
|Croxley Rail Link|
The Croxley Rail Link is an approved plan to re-route part of a London Underground line in Hertfordshire, outside London, UK. The project would divert Metropolitan line Watford branch services after Croxley station away from Watford station to Watford Junction, via a stretch of new line on a viaduct over the Grand Union Canal/River Gade and intermediate stations using a reopened section of track.
The project, in its current form, involves the ending of passenger services between Croxley and Watford Underground Station. As this constitutes a proposal to close a route to passenger services, and to close a station, a formal closure process involving London TravelWatch is required. The London TravelWatch Board have 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. The panel held a public meeting in Watford on 14 June 2012.
The main exponent of the scheme is Hertfordshire County Council, although it has the active support of Transport for London (TfL), the public body which owns the current Watford branch. The proposed route was featured in a Transport for London network map for 2016. The proposed rail link route is also shown in the Transport for London Indicative 2025 Transport Map; in this map the current Watford tube station does not feature.
When the Croxley Rail Link is built, direct services into Watford Junction from Amersham would also be possible, thus 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.
Beginning April 2012, London Overground services have been suspended at the weekends to allow for the removal of the old track by rail and to bring in wagons containing new ballast which is being re-laid on the trackbed, and widen it at the same time. Although the site entrance to the current activity is at the Watford High Street Station end, the points south-west have not yet been replaced.
The location of the London Underground Watford station is somewhat peripheral to Watford town centre, close to Cassiobury Park. Historically it was the Metropolitan Railway's intention to extend its Watford branch onwards into central Watford via a tunnel under Cassiobury Park and the station was constructed at a lower level in preparation for a cut-and-cover tunnel across the park. This plan was vetoed by the Earl of Essex, who objected to the ventilation shafts necessary for the steam trains of that era. The planned Watford Central station building on Watford High Street, opposite Clarendon Road, still exists as The Moon Under Water public house; this building was intended to be the booking hall for the station.
Also in the Watford area was a single-track British Rail branch line, which originally opened in 1912 as part of the Watford and Rickmansworth Railway. The line ran from Watford Junction to Croxley Green and closed in 1996 due to low usage.
The two lines, though at their closest only about 200 metres apart, were never linked.
In 2005 Transport for London (TfL) tentatively committed to providing up to £18m of the total estimated costs of £65m for the project, predicting that the link would be operational by 2010. However, difficulties subsequently 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, citing revised costs of £95m. This was rejected in March on the basis that no guarantee of financial backing had been received from TfL.
The scheme took a major step forward in July 2008 when the East of England Regional Assembly declared it a "priority" among transport policies in the region and agreed to contribute £119.5m towards the estimated costs which were said to have risen to £150m. Hertfordshire County Council also 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.
It was hoped that these plans - the £162 million Croxley Rail Link and the £38 million Watford Junction Interchange - would reduce congestion and boost Watford's economy.
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 overall costs and scope reviewed. Following the coalition's Comprehensive Spending Review the Croxley Rail Link 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 project, with the remainder of the funding coming from the local authorities with a contribution of £33.7m and contributions from third parties of £6.86m.
Route and proposed services
The Croxley Rail Link will require the construction of the "missing link" between the existing Metropolitan line and the former British Rail branch line to Watford Junction at their closest point. Under approved plans, the link would begin at a new junction near Baldwins Lane, about a kilometre north-east of Croxley station, and be carried via a new viaduct and bridge over the Watford Road dual carriageway and the Grand Union Canal. This would then join onto the former British Rail line; new double track would be laid on the disused trackbed up to Watford High Street station.
The submitted proposals also detail the addition of two intermediate stations to the line - both new constructions. The existing but closed Croxley Green would be replaced by a new station close by in Ascot Road and potentially be called Cassio Bridge. A second new station would be opened on Vicarage Road, to be called Watford Hospital or Vicarage Road. Both of these new stations would be provided with full Underground facilities with the exception of a staffed ticket office; ticket machines would be available instead.
The Watford Friends of the Earth have claimed:
"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 new Watford Hospital station|
|Watford Hospital||new construction|
|Watford West||remaining closed||Area to be served by new Watford Hospital station|
|Ascot Road||new construction|
|Croxley Green||remaining closed||Area to be served by new Ascot Road station|
A further proposal is to use an existing but seldom-used chord towards Amersham via Rickmansworth which would allow direct services to and from central Watford, thus improving local public transport in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Under this proposal, Amersham trains would run along an existing viaduct which connects Rickmansworth to the Watford branch of the Metropolitan Line south of Croxley; from there, services would continue along the proposed new viaduct to the Croxley Branch Line and on to Watford Junction.
The proposal was included in a Greengauge 21 report 'Capturing the Benefits of HS2 on Existing Lines'. The report proposes the onset of 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 Chiltern Line destinations to Watford Junction."
The proposed route of the Croxley Rail Link runs close to the Watford Health Campus, a major new development of Watford General Hospital which will also include a hotel, retail, business and residential developments. Promoters of this development believe that the rail link will increase the need for public transport and will provide potential custom for Croxley Rail Link services and the Health Campus project expresses support for the Croxley Rail Link on its website.
Watford High Street station
The route at Croxley Green station
An outside view of Watford tube station
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Croxley Rail Link|
- "Croxley Rail Link". Retrieved 2011-06-25.
- "Transport bosses hear arguments to keep Watford Met station open". Watford Observer. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- Wood, John (March 2006). "Hertfordshire's Local Transport Plan 2006/07 – 2010/1". Hertfordshire County Council. p. 22. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
- "West Watford Transport Plan". Hertfordshire County Council. 2001. p. 46. Retrieved 2008-07-24. see section 6.3.6
- "Croxley Rail Link". Transport for London. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
- "A Proposed London Transport Map for 2016 featuring the Croxley Rail Link" (PDF). The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-09-26.
- "A Transport for London 2025 Indicative Transport Map showing the Croxley Rail Link". Retrieved 2010-09-26.
- "Croxley Rail Link plan approved by Government". Watford Observer. Retrieved 2011-12-13.
- "Best and final funding bid: Croxley Rail Link". Croxley Rail Link. September 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
- "See User Comment: Igloo". Watfordobserver.co.uk. 2008-03-29. Retrieved 2010-09-26.
- "Croxley Rail Link project on track". Transport for London. 2005-02-10. Retrieved 2008-07-28.[dead link]
- "Rail link a step closer". Watford Observer. 2008-02-02. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
- "Croxley Rail Link hits the Sidings". Watford Observer. 2008-03-29. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
- "Watford Tube link gets the go-ahead". Construction News. 2008-07-21. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
- "Rail link cost spirals". Watford Observer. 2008-07-10. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
- "Rail link plans get support". Watford Observer. 2008-08-09. Retrieved 2008-08-10.
- "Croxley Rail Link 'complete by 2014'". Watford Observer. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
- Michael Pickard (8 February 2011). "Croxley Rail Link fight 'far from over'". Watford Observer. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
- "Local Authority Majors, Development Pool Schemes, Scheme Decisions". DfT. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
- "Web Brochure". Croxley Rail Link. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- "Map of the Croxley Rail Link". Transport for London. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
- "Names in the frame for new Croxley Rail Link stations in Watford". Watford Observer. 2013-06-07. Retrieved 2013-06-07.
- "DfT Expression of Interest - Submission for Funding" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-05-10.
- "Watford West station design" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-05-10.
- "The future for Watford's hospital?". Archived from the original on 2007-10-24.
- "Chiltern Railways". Rail Saver. Retrieved 2008-07-27. "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". Greengauge21. Retrieved 2011-04-22.
- Garland, Ken (1994-12-05). Mr Beck's Underground Map. Harrow Weald: Capital Transport Publishing. p. 63. ISBN 1-85414-168-6. OCLC 32915967.
- "Transport Improvements". Watford Health Campus website. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- Croxley Rail Link Public Consultation website
- "Croxley Rail Link". Transport for London. Retrieved 2008-07-27.
- "Croxley Link". Alwaystouchout.com. 2006-08-29. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
- Google Maps diagram of the proposed link
- "Disused Stations: Croxley Green". Subterranea Britannica. 2004-11-05. Retrieved 2008-07-28. - photos of the disused line
- London's Abandoned Stations - Croxley Green branch
- An insight into the history of the branch line and its demise as well as photographs of the derelict line today
- A Blog Containing up to date details on the progress of the Line