A wide range of proposals to bring a long disused stretch of railway back to life as a key transport link between Watford and Croxley Green are to be explored by three leading travel and transport consultancies.
Atkins, SYSTRA UK and Wood Group will work in partnership with Hertfordshire County Council, Watford Borough Council, Three Rivers District Council and Network Rail to provide innovative solutions to improve connectivity within the area.
The transport link will connect important areas of Watford like the town centre, hospital, Watford FC and Croxley Park with Croxley Green and Watford Junction and the travel network beyond.
Securing the right solution is an important part of the overall plans of the partnership and Network Rail for future cleaner, healthier and greener travel in the area for the benefit of residents, visitors and commuters.
Watford Council’s and Networks Rail’s commitment to protect the land that provides a link from Croxley to Watford Junction opens the door to new ways of using the link and, with transport technology moving forward at a pace, there could be some exciting and ground breaking ideas coming forward. At the very least the plans are expected to align with the county wide movement towards Active Travel, encouraging more people to walk and cycle as part of their everyday journeys.
Cllr Sarah Nelmes, Leader of Three Rivers District Council, said “At a time when we want to see reduced emissions – any new transport link which helps residents get where they want to be without having to get in their cars would be welcome in Three Rivers. The links between Watford and Three Rivers are vital as so many of our services are shared – including schools, shops, and a range of other resources and infrastructure. Improved transport links of any form could provide accessible and convenient routes that help people switch from car usage.”
Peter Taylor, Elected Mayor of Watford, said: “Improving our public transport options is a key objective in our sustainable transport strategy. I am determined to make this connection a reality for the benefit of our residents and local businesses. This is why we are providing funding, and taking a lead role in the project. It is a very positive sign that three leading engineering consultancies want to work with us. Bringing this line back into use will help cut congestion in Watford and I’m looking forward to seeing the solutions they put forward.
Phil Bibby, Executive Member for Highways and Transport at Hertfordshire County Council, said “Across the county we are investing in active and public transport to better connect our towns and villages, and help people get where they need to go without using a car. As well as this link between Watford and Croxley, we are exploring options for upgrading the Watford to St Albans Abbey Line, and working on plans for a new HERT rapid transit system that will connect Hemel Hempstead to Harlow. By delivering infrastructure that meets the needs of our communities, we’ll help to deliver a cleaner, greener and healthier Hertfordshire.”
James Dean, Director for Network Rail’s West Coast South route, said: “We’re pleased to be working with our partners in Hertfordshire to explore how disused railway land between Watford and Croxley Green could be repurposed to help better connect local people and increase the provision of sustainable journeys in the area.”
Concept designs from the three companies will be submitted by Spring 2023 and then a Strategic Outline Case (including business feasibility) will be developed to support future bids for funding opportunities to deliver the project.
A budget of £275k has been set aside for this work. This comes from Hertfordshire County Council’s Highways and Transport budget and Watford Borough Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money, which is raised from new developments to support the delivery of infrastructure (such as travel and transport) in the town.