Hertford loop line

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Hertford Loop Line)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Hertford Loop Line
Enfield Chase railway station MMB 06 313046 313030.jpg
OwnerNetwork Rail
LocaleGreater London
East of England
TerminiLondon Moorgate
TypeHeavy rail
SystemNational Rail
Operator(s)Great Northern
Depot(s)Hornsey EMUD
Rolling stockClass 717 "Desiro City"
Line length24 mi (39 km)
Number of tracks2
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Loading gaugeW9
Route availabilityRA 7-9
Electrification25 kV AC OHLE
Operating speedMaximum 75 mph (121 km/h)
Route map
Hertford loop line.png
(Click to expand)

The Hertford Line[1][2] (also known colloquially as the Hertford Loop) is a branch of the East Coast Main Line, part of the Northern City Line commuter route to London for Hertford and other Hertfordshire towns and an occasional diversion route for the main line. The line is part of the Network Rail Strategic Route 8, SRS 08.03 and is classified as a London and South East Commuter line.[3]


The line was opened in three stages between 1871 and 1924. The first section called the Enfield Branch Railway was developed by the London and York Railway and went from Wood Green to Enfield.[4] In 1898, a plan was approved to extend the line north to Hertford and Stevenage, in order to relieve congestion on the main line without having to widen the Welwyn Viaduct. Work started in 1905 and Cuffley was reached on 4 April 1910. The construction of two major viaducts and the Ponsbourne Tunnel (at 2,684 yards or 2,454 metres, the longest in the eastern counties of England and the last to be built by traditional methods), combined with World War I shortages of men and materials, delayed the opening of the route to Stevenage until 4 March 1918. Then it was single track and for goods services only. The line finally opened to passengers on 2 June 1924 when a new Hertford North Station was opened.[5] The line was electrified in 1977.[6]

The line was also used frequently during the Second World War as the Welwyn/Digswell viaduct was at high risk from bombs

Route and settlements served[edit]

The Hertford Line leaves the East Coast Main Line at Langley junction,[1] just south of Stevenage.

It rejoins the East Coast Main Line at Wood Green South junction,[7] north of Alexandra Palace railway station.


Great Northern operates suburban services along the Hertford Line between London King's Cross or Moorgate, and Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone or Hertford North. Occasionally, London North Eastern Railway, Hull Trains, Grand Central and other faster Great Northern services operate non-stop along the route when diverted off the main section of the East Coast Main Line, due to engineering work. There is a reversing siding to the north of Bowes Park which is occasionally used to reverse London North Eastern Railway trains heading for the Bounds Green Depot. There are also bay platforms at Hertford North, Stevenage, and Gordon Hill, the latter acting as a terminus during peak hours and night only.


The line is about 24 miles (39 km) long, is double track throughout and is electrified at 25 kV AC using overhead line equipment. It has a loading gauge of W9 and a maximum line speed of 75 mph (121 km/h).[3]

Grade-separated junctions connect each end of the northbound track with the main line. All stations are long enough to accept two, three-car (20m) EMUs. Not all stations are long enough for newly-introduced 6-car EMUs, but their walk-through design allows for access.

Tunnels and viaducts[edit]

Major civil engineering structures on the Hertford Line include the following.[8]

Tunnels and viaducts on the Hertford Line
Railway Structure Length Distance from London King's Cross Location
Molewood Tunnel 364 yards (333 metres) 20 miles 31 chains – 20 miles 14 chains North of Hertford North station
Hertford Viaduct 14 chains 19 miles 15 chains – 19 miles 01 chains Between Hertford North and Bayford stations
Hornsmill Viaduct (River Lea) 6 chains 18 miles 58 chains – 18 miles 52 chains
Ponsbourne Tunnel 1 mile 924 yards (2454 metres) 16 miles 21 chains – 14 miles 59 chains Between Bayford and Cuffley stations
Sopers Farm Viaduct 6 chains 12 miles 43 chains – 12 miles 37 chains Between Cuffley and Crews Hill stations
Rendlesham Viaduct 7 chains 10 miles 40 chains – 10 miles 33 chains Between Crews Hill and Gordon Hill stations
Down Enfield Viaduct (Down line) 5 miles 22 chains North of Alexandra Palace Station

ERTMS trials on the Hertford loop line[edit]

Network Rail is using Beacon Rail owned Class 313 unit 313121 as a test vehicle for ERTMS on the Hertford Line.[9] The plan involved resignalling a 5 12-mile (8.9 km) section of the double track route to allow existing passenger and freight services to work bi-directionally over the up Hertford loop line, freeing the down line for ERTMS tests and evaluation.[10]


  1. ^ a b Network Rail (2 December 2006). London North East Route Sectional Appendix. Module LNE1. p. 46. NR30018/01a.
  2. ^ Quail Map 2 - England: East [page 24] Feb 1998 (Retrieved 2014-04-12)
  3. ^ a b "Route 8 - East Coast Main Line" (PDF). Network Rail. 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  4. ^ A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain (Vol. 3 Greater London), H P White, David & Charles Ltd 1971 (Pages 166-7)
  5. ^ A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain (Vol. 5 The Eastern Counties), D I Gordon, David & Charles Ltd 1977 ISBN 0-7153-4321-1 (Pages 123-4)
  6. ^ "English Heritage Pastscape: Hertford Loop Line". Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  7. ^ Network Rail (2 December 2006). London North East Route Sectional Appendix. Module LNE1. p. 44. NR30018/01a.
  8. ^ Brailsford, Martyn (2016). Railway Track Diagrams Book 2: Eastern. Frome: Trackmaps. pp. 14, 24. ISBN 978-0-9549866-8-1.
  9. ^ "Railway Industry Association: Update #52 page 6" (PDF). Retrieved 4 March 2011.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "The signal for change". Rail Magazine. 664. 22 February – 8 March 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2015.

Hornby, Frank (1995) London Commuter Lines. Volume 1: Main lines north of the Thames. Kettering: Silver Link Publishing Ltd.