Rail link a step closer

A £95million upgrade of Watford's rail system edged closer to approval this week, with the submission of the business case for the Croxley Rail Link.

The Department of Transport (DfT) now has 26 weeks to look at the application which, if agreed, could see a link between the Metropolitan Line and Watford Junction running by 2013.

The scheme would include two new stations, one in Ascot Road and one serving the proposed Watford Health Campus and Vicarage Road stadium. Watford MP Claire Ward, Mayor of Watford, Dorothy Thornhill, and Leader of Hertfordshire County Council Robert Gordon all voiced their support for the project this week in a joint letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Ruth Kelly.

Mayor Thornhill said the project was vital to the growth of the town, adding: "Watford needs a decision which will make a dramatic and positive impact on the lives of its residents and those who work or travel through the town.

"The benefits of the Croxley Rail Link are clear and deliverable within a short time frame. The town and its people have waited a long time for progress."

The project is estimated to cut down on 300,000 car trips and be used a million times a year.

Ms Ward said she had supported the scheme for many years and has had regular meetings about it with Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and transport ministers.

She said: "Now is a golden opportunity for this public transport scheme to be put in place and we are desperate for the authorities to support it.

"People have been waiting 20 or 30 years for this and now is the best time ever to make a case for the Croxley Rail Link."

Transport for London has already agreed to contribute around £17.5million towards the project. Subject to approval, a public consultation will start in September.

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