Hertford Loop Line

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Hertford Loop Line
Enfield Chase railway station MMB 06 313046 313030.jpg
Type Heavy rail
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale Greater London
East of England
Termini London Moorgate
Stations 11
Services 1
Opened 1871—1924
Owner Network Rail
Operator(s) Great Northern
Depot(s) Hornsey EMUD
Rolling stock Class 313
Line length 24 mi (39 km)
Number of tracks 2
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Loading gauge W9
Route availability RA 7-9
Electrification 25 kV AC OHLE
Operating speed Maximum 75 mph (121 km/h)
Hertford Loop Line
East Coast Main Line
to Edinburgh Waverley
Langley South Junction
Hertford East Branch Line
Mole Wood Tunnel
364 yards
Hertford North
Hertford Viaduct
Hornsmill Viaduct
Ponsbourne Tunnel
1 mile 924 yards
Sopers Farm Viaduct
Crews Hill
Rendlesham Viaduct
Gordon Hill
Enfield Chase
Grange Park
Winchmore Hill
Palmers Green
UK road A406.PNG North Circular Road
Bowes Park
Wood Green North Jn
Bounds Green TMD
Alexandra Palace
Palace Gates Line
East Coast Main Line
to London King's Cross

The Hertford Line[1][2] (also known colloquially as the Hertford Loop) is a branch of the East Coast Main Line, providing a 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]


Great Northern operates suburban services along the Hertford Line between London King's Cross or Moorgate, and Letchworth, Stevenage, Hitchin or Hertford North. Occasionally, Virgin Trains East Coast, 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 Virgin Trains East Coast trains heading for the Bounds Green Depot. There are also bay platforms at Hertford North 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.

European Rail Traffic Management System trials on the Hertford Line[edit]

Network Rail is using Beacon Rail owned Class 313 unit 313121 as a test vehicle for ERTMS on the Hertford Line.[4] 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 line, freeing the down line for ERTMS tests and evaluation.[5]


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.[6] 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.[7] The line was electrified in 1977.[8]

Route and settlements served[edit]

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

It rejoins the East Coast Main Line at Wood Green North junction,[9] north of Alexandra Palace railway station.


  1. ^ a b Network Rail (2006-12-02). 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. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  4. ^ "Railway Industry Association: Update #52 page 6" (PDF). Retrieved 4 March 2011. [permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "The signal for change". Rail Magazine. 664. 22 February – 8 March 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2015. 
  6. ^ A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain (Vol. 3 Greater London), H P White, David & Charles Ltd 1971 (Pages 166-7)
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ English Heritage Pastscape: Hertford Loop Line
  9. ^ Network Rail (2006-12-02). London North East Route Sectional Appendix. Module LNE1. p. 44. NR30018/01a. 

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