Abbey Flyer railway line to be converted into tram system

First published in News Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by

The Abbey Flyer railway line, which links Watford Junction with St Albans Abbey, is to be converted into a tram system, the Secretary of State for Transport Andrew Adonis confirmed this morning.

Mr Adonis, speaking at Watford Junction, said the new scheme will offer a more frequent service of up-to three trams an hour, rather than the one every 45 minutes currently offered.

The increased service will be made possible by the building of a passing loop on the line, allowing two trams to operate at any one time along what, at present, is a single track route catering for some 450,000 passengers each year.

Dependent on the outcome of a 12-week public consultation, ownership of the line will be transferred from Network Rail to Hertfordshire County Council, which will then tender for a contractor to run the service.

Mr Adonis did not say precisely, however, what timetable would be offered but said “in principle” the service could run later into the night, allowing greater access to both towns’ night-time economies.

He told the Watford Observer: “This project would make it possible to run later trains but it would be up to the county council to decide what the service pattern is. But, in principle, it would be possible to run later.”

Asked why his department had singled out Watford for such attention Mr Adonis, a well-known railway enthusiast, replied: “Because a very exciting proposal was put to me by the county council and I am keen to respond to innovative local projects like this one.

“Local people want to see a more regular service and this will make it possible. It will be a very significant enhancement to the area. It will reduce rail congestion and is a real win-win.”

Hertfordshire County Council said the project could be up-and-running by the end of 2011 and insisted disruption to commuters’ journeys during any construction work would be minimal.

Funding for the project, an amount yet to be announced, will come directly from the Department for Transport, which will simply transfer the existing subsidy it currently pays London Midland to operate the service to the project.

Watford MP Claire Ward said: “I welcome this good news for the community.

“The Abbey Flyer is going to be put on a firmer footing and there will be better services.

“It is good news, both for Watford and for people who commute from St Albans to London.”

Comments (15)

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9:54am Fri 30 Oct 09

The Rover says...

If it takes as long to sort this out as it has to sort out the Croxley Rail link we should see trams running on the line by about 2040!
If it takes as long to sort this out as it has to sort out the Croxley Rail link we should see trams running on the line by about 2040! The Rover
  • Score: 0

1:05pm Fri 30 Oct 09

shalvey says...

The Rover wrote:
If it takes as long to sort this out as it has to sort out the Croxley Rail link we should see trams running on the line by about 2040!
Shouldn't take that long, as most of the infrastructure is in place, but all they need to do is bring the line back onto the original alignment at Watford Junction so that it comes into the "old" platform 11 and put in the passing loop at Bricket Wood!
For it to be a success we need a 20 minute service all day every day and to run beyond midnight, proper security and consistent fare collection and ticketing!
Not too much for a Council too deliver....hmmm!
[quote][p][bold]The Rover[/bold] wrote: If it takes as long to sort this out as it has to sort out the Croxley Rail link we should see trams running on the line by about 2040![/p][/quote]Shouldn't take that long, as most of the infrastructure is in place, but all they need to do is bring the line back onto the original alignment at Watford Junction so that it comes into the "old" platform 11 and put in the passing loop at Bricket Wood! For it to be a success we need a 20 minute service all day every day and to run beyond midnight, proper security and consistent fare collection and ticketing! Not too much for a Council too deliver....hmmm! shalvey
  • Score: 0

1:12pm Fri 30 Oct 09

Andrew1963 says...

Unlike Croxley Rail link there will be little in the way of large civil engineering work to get the service up and running. It could see add ons in future years as funds become available. For example having a more prominent presence in St Albans town centre, and when they rebuild Watford Junction.

On the Croxley Rail link, if the tram went along the Ebury Way and somehow linked up ith the Met line at Rickmansworth or Moor Park, you would not need the Croxley Rail link. The tram would somehow have to get to the Health Campus site in Cardiff Road. Perhaps a scheme for 2040 after all!
Unlike Croxley Rail link there will be little in the way of large civil engineering work to get the service up and running. It could see add ons in future years as funds become available. For example having a more prominent presence in St Albans town centre, and when they rebuild Watford Junction. On the Croxley Rail link, if the tram went along the Ebury Way and somehow linked up ith the Met line at Rickmansworth or Moor Park, you would not need the Croxley Rail link. The tram would somehow have to get to the Health Campus site in Cardiff Road. Perhaps a scheme for 2040 after all! Andrew1963
  • Score: 0

1:22pm Fri 30 Oct 09

shalvey says...

Andrew1963 wrote:
Unlike Croxley Rail link there will be little in the way of large civil engineering work to get the service up and running. It could see add ons in future years as funds become available. For example having a more prominent presence in St Albans town centre, and when they rebuild Watford Junction. On the Croxley Rail link, if the tram went along the Ebury Way and somehow linked up ith the Met line at Rickmansworth or Moor Park, you would not need the Croxley Rail link. The tram would somehow have to get to the Health Campus site in Cardiff Road. Perhaps a scheme for 2040 after all!
How is it going to get cross the West Coast Main Line?
Major civil engineering needed for so little gain?
[quote][p][bold]Andrew1963[/bold] wrote: Unlike Croxley Rail link there will be little in the way of large civil engineering work to get the service up and running. It could see add ons in future years as funds become available. For example having a more prominent presence in St Albans town centre, and when they rebuild Watford Junction. On the Croxley Rail link, if the tram went along the Ebury Way and somehow linked up ith the Met line at Rickmansworth or Moor Park, you would not need the Croxley Rail link. The tram would somehow have to get to the Health Campus site in Cardiff Road. Perhaps a scheme for 2040 after all![/p][/quote]How is it going to get cross the West Coast Main Line? Major civil engineering needed for so little gain? shalvey
  • Score: 0

4:04pm Fri 30 Oct 09

dlg007 says...

This is the wrong decision. In my opinion, the most beneficial solution would be to route the Chiltern line to St. Albans via the Croxley Rail Link, to connect Watford to the proposed East West rail link. This would relieve a lot of congestion on the M25.
This is the wrong decision. In my opinion, the most beneficial solution would be to route the Chiltern line to St. Albans via the Croxley Rail Link, to connect Watford to the proposed East West rail link. This would relieve a lot of congestion on the M25. dlg007
  • Score: 0

5:10pm Fri 30 Oct 09

The Rover says...

dlg007 wrote:
This is the wrong decision. In my opinion, the most beneficial solution would be to route the Chiltern line to St. Albans via the Croxley Rail Link, to connect Watford to the proposed East West rail link. This would relieve a lot of congestion on the M25.
I agree. Wrong decision but also the cheapest decision.
[quote][p][bold]dlg007[/bold] wrote: This is the wrong decision. In my opinion, the most beneficial solution would be to route the Chiltern line to St. Albans via the Croxley Rail Link, to connect Watford to the proposed East West rail link. This would relieve a lot of congestion on the M25.[/p][/quote]I agree. Wrong decision but also the cheapest decision. The Rover
  • Score: 0

8:32pm Fri 30 Oct 09

Alex84 says...

The Tram line from the exsiting Abbey flyer is a great idea. However, in conventional terms what would be the cost in removing exsiting rail from the route and replacing the a new system and specialised Trams and opperators cost. It is my concern that every years there a summit of Silverlink Rail which are trying to remove the service or down grading, there commuters are often campaigning on the Abbey Flyer to keep it running with a reliable service. Maybe Avirra should pull out a Bus service from Watford Junction to St. Albans or Gaston.
I'm supporting the Watford MP as far as it a great service to travel local stops from Watford to St. Albans and futher a field. However, disagree with the Tram service and ask the Watford MP Clair Ward support the Abbey Flyer and place on the local plan, also would it be consievable to obtain grants on local infustor which would include the Abbey Flyer.
The Tram line from the exsiting Abbey flyer is a great idea. However, in conventional terms what would be the cost in removing exsiting rail from the route and replacing the a new system and specialised Trams and opperators cost. It is my concern that every years there a summit of Silverlink Rail which are trying to remove the service or down grading, there commuters are often campaigning on the Abbey Flyer to keep it running with a reliable service. Maybe Avirra should pull out a Bus service from Watford Junction to St. Albans or Gaston. I'm supporting the Watford MP as far as it a great service to travel local stops from Watford to St. Albans and futher a field. However, disagree with the Tram service and ask the Watford MP Clair Ward support the Abbey Flyer and place on the local plan, also would it be consievable to obtain grants on local infustor which would include the Abbey Flyer. Alex84
  • Score: 0

9:18pm Fri 30 Oct 09

shalvey says...

Alex84 wrote:
The Tram line from the exsiting Abbey flyer is a great idea. However, in conventional terms what would be the cost in removing exsiting rail from the route and replacing the a new system and specialised Trams and opperators cost. It is my concern that every years there a summit of Silverlink Rail which are trying to remove the service or down grading, there commuters are often campaigning on the Abbey Flyer to keep it running with a reliable service. Maybe Avirra should pull out a Bus service from Watford Junction to St. Albans or Gaston. I'm supporting the Watford MP as far as it a great service to travel local stops from Watford to St. Albans and futher a field. However, disagree with the Tram service and ask the Watford MP Clair Ward support the Abbey Flyer and place on the local plan, also would it be consievable to obtain grants on local infustor which would include the Abbey Flyer.
Silverlink?
Have you been on the p**s?
[quote][p][bold]Alex84[/bold] wrote: The Tram line from the exsiting Abbey flyer is a great idea. However, in conventional terms what would be the cost in removing exsiting rail from the route and replacing the a new system and specialised Trams and opperators cost. It is my concern that every years there a summit of Silverlink Rail which are trying to remove the service or down grading, there commuters are often campaigning on the Abbey Flyer to keep it running with a reliable service. Maybe Avirra should pull out a Bus service from Watford Junction to St. Albans or Gaston. I'm supporting the Watford MP as far as it a great service to travel local stops from Watford to St. Albans and futher a field. However, disagree with the Tram service and ask the Watford MP Clair Ward support the Abbey Flyer and place on the local plan, also would it be consievable to obtain grants on local infustor which would include the Abbey Flyer.[/p][/quote]Silverlink? Have you been on the p**s? shalvey
  • Score: 0

11:50pm Fri 30 Oct 09

shalvey says...

dlg007 wrote:
This is the wrong decision. In my opinion, the most beneficial solution would be to route the Chiltern line to St. Albans via the Croxley Rail Link, to connect Watford to the proposed East West rail link. This would relieve a lot of congestion on the M25.
The East-West rail link is 30 miles away at it's nearest point, how would this relieve a lot of congestion on the M25?

Didn't do Geography at school did you?

Clown!
[quote][p][bold]dlg007[/bold] wrote: This is the wrong decision. In my opinion, the most beneficial solution would be to route the Chiltern line to St. Albans via the Croxley Rail Link, to connect Watford to the proposed East West rail link. This would relieve a lot of congestion on the M25.[/p][/quote]The East-West rail link is 30 miles away at it's nearest point, how would this relieve a lot of congestion on the M25? Didn't do Geography at school did you? Clown! shalvey
  • Score: 0

2:15am Sat 31 Oct 09

dlg007 says...

shalvey wrote:
dlg007 wrote:
This is the wrong decision. In my opinion, the most beneficial solution would be to route the Chiltern line to St. Albans via the Croxley Rail Link, to connect Watford to the proposed East West rail link. This would relieve a lot of congestion on the M25.
The East-West rail link is 30 miles away at it's nearest point, how would this relieve a lot of congestion on the M25?

Didn't do Geography at school did you?

Clown!
The M25 is a gateway to Oxford, Cambridge, and Ipswich (which are all planned to be served by the East-West rail link) and is highly prone to congestion. Furthermore, the only way to travel from Watford to Oxford via rail is to travel into London, then to take a train from Paddington - total journey time = 2hrs (double the time of road travel). By connecting St. Albans and Watford to the East West Rail link via Aylesbury, this could be reduced significantly.
[quote][p][bold]shalvey[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]dlg007[/bold] wrote: This is the wrong decision. In my opinion, the most beneficial solution would be to route the Chiltern line to St. Albans via the Croxley Rail Link, to connect Watford to the proposed East West rail link. This would relieve a lot of congestion on the M25.[/p][/quote]The East-West rail link is 30 miles away at it's nearest point, how would this relieve a lot of congestion on the M25? Didn't do Geography at school did you? Clown![/p][/quote]The M25 is a gateway to Oxford, Cambridge, and Ipswich (which are all planned to be served by the East-West rail link) and is highly prone to congestion. Furthermore, the only way to travel from Watford to Oxford via rail is to travel into London, then to take a train from Paddington - total journey time = 2hrs (double the time of road travel). By connecting St. Albans and Watford to the East West Rail link via Aylesbury, this could be reduced significantly. dlg007
  • Score: 0

1:11pm Sat 31 Oct 09

davenur says...

Silly idea.it would be better to intergrate into the Croxley link which would increase through journey possibilities.
At present for a more frequent service on the line passing loops are needed.
Present trains could run on to London,trams could not.
Silly idea.it would be better to intergrate into the Croxley link which would increase through journey possibilities. At present for a more frequent service on the line passing loops are needed. Present trains could run on to London,trams could not. davenur
  • Score: 0

5:13pm Sat 31 Oct 09

Andrew1963 says...

The advantage of a tram over train is that it is lighter and can run over roads. So from Watford jct the tram could cross on the St Albans Road bridge or it could follow the route down colonial way follow the M1 link road to West Watford. The reason this is hapeening is because heavy rail is more expensive to maintain - especially rolling stock hire and maintenance. Trams are cheaper to buy.
The advantage of a tram over train is that it is lighter and can run over roads. So from Watford jct the tram could cross on the St Albans Road bridge or it could follow the route down colonial way follow the M1 link road to West Watford. The reason this is hapeening is because heavy rail is more expensive to maintain - especially rolling stock hire and maintenance. Trams are cheaper to buy. Andrew1963
  • Score: 0

9:03pm Sun 1 Nov 09

CallowlandChris says...

Basically good news, especially if it is delivered with the Croxley Rail link. We have to hope we get a hung-parliament though as this is exactly the sort of thing the Tories will scrap if they get a majority in parliament. Go Lib/Lab\Green etc!

What would be better though would be a solution that sorts out the hopeless east-west transport links in this county. Build Croxley and we will have train track from Amersham to St Albans. Just need to extend it across to Hertford and you woudnt need to own a car round here. A 2 hour bus ride from Watford to Hertford - as if anyone with any money is going to do that! Build a proper east-west county line and you could connect all the towns up properly, support the new growth sustainably, massivly reduce congestion and tackle pollution...

Andrew1963 - Although the article talks about a tramline, I suspect what is proposed would be a 'hybrid system', which would still look like a train but would be a lightweight one. There is some tram-train thing planned for Sheffield - so I guess that might be the same sort of thing?
Basically good news, especially if it is delivered with the Croxley Rail link. We have to hope we get a hung-parliament though as this is exactly the sort of thing the Tories will scrap if they get a majority in parliament. Go Lib/Lab\Green etc! What would be better though would be a solution that sorts out the hopeless east-west transport links in this county. Build Croxley and we will have train track from Amersham to St Albans. Just need to extend it across to Hertford and you woudnt need to own a car round here. A 2 hour bus ride from Watford to Hertford - as if anyone with any money is going to do that! Build a proper east-west county line and you could connect all the towns up properly, support the new growth sustainably, massivly reduce congestion and tackle pollution... Andrew1963 - Although the article talks about a tramline, I suspect what is proposed would be a 'hybrid system', which would still look like a train but would be a lightweight one. There is some tram-train thing planned for Sheffield - so I guess that might be the same sort of thing? CallowlandChris
  • Score: 0

9:03pm Sun 1 Nov 09

CallowlandChris says...

Basically good news, especially if it is delivered with the Croxley Rail link. We have to hope we get a hung-parliament though as this is exactly the sort of thing the Tories will scrap if they get a majority in parliament. Go Lib/Lab\Green etc!

What would be better though would be a solution that sorts out the hopeless east-west transport links in this county. Build Croxley and we will have train track from Amersham to St Albans. Just need to extend it across to Hertford and you woudnt need to own a car round here. A 2 hour bus ride from Watford to Hertford - as if anyone with any money is going to do that! Build a proper east-west county line and you could connect all the towns up properly, support the new growth sustainably, massivly reduce congestion and tackle pollution...

Andrew1963 - Although the article talks about a tramline, I suspect what is proposed would be a 'hybrid system', which would still look like a train but would be a lightweight one. There is some tram-train thing planned for Sheffield - so I guess that might be the same sort of thing?
Basically good news, especially if it is delivered with the Croxley Rail link. We have to hope we get a hung-parliament though as this is exactly the sort of thing the Tories will scrap if they get a majority in parliament. Go Lib/Lab\Green etc! What would be better though would be a solution that sorts out the hopeless east-west transport links in this county. Build Croxley and we will have train track from Amersham to St Albans. Just need to extend it across to Hertford and you woudnt need to own a car round here. A 2 hour bus ride from Watford to Hertford - as if anyone with any money is going to do that! Build a proper east-west county line and you could connect all the towns up properly, support the new growth sustainably, massivly reduce congestion and tackle pollution... Andrew1963 - Although the article talks about a tramline, I suspect what is proposed would be a 'hybrid system', which would still look like a train but would be a lightweight one. There is some tram-train thing planned for Sheffield - so I guess that might be the same sort of thing? CallowlandChris
  • Score: 0

9:04pm Sun 1 Nov 09

CallowlandChris says...

Basically good news, especially if it is delivered with the Croxley Rail link. We have to hope we get a hung-parliament though as this is exactly the sort of thing the Tories will scrap if they get a majority in parliament. Go Lib/Lab\Green etc!

What would be better though would be a solution that sorts out the hopeless east-west transport links in this county. Build Croxley and we will have train track from Amersham to St Albans. Just need to extend it across to Hertford and you woudnt need to own a car round here. A 2 hour bus ride from Watford to Hertford - as if anyone with any money is going to do that! Build a proper east-west county line and you could connect all the towns up properly, support the new growth sustainably, massivly reduce congestion and tackle pollution...

Andrew1963 - Although the article talks about a tramline, I suspect what is proposed would be a 'hybrid system', which would still look like a train but would be a lightweight one. There is some tram-train thing planned for Sheffield - so I guess that might be the same sort of thing?
Basically good news, especially if it is delivered with the Croxley Rail link. We have to hope we get a hung-parliament though as this is exactly the sort of thing the Tories will scrap if they get a majority in parliament. Go Lib/Lab\Green etc! What would be better though would be a solution that sorts out the hopeless east-west transport links in this county. Build Croxley and we will have train track from Amersham to St Albans. Just need to extend it across to Hertford and you woudnt need to own a car round here. A 2 hour bus ride from Watford to Hertford - as if anyone with any money is going to do that! Build a proper east-west county line and you could connect all the towns up properly, support the new growth sustainably, massivly reduce congestion and tackle pollution... Andrew1963 - Although the article talks about a tramline, I suspect what is proposed would be a 'hybrid system', which would still look like a train but would be a lightweight one. There is some tram-train thing planned for Sheffield - so I guess that might be the same sort of thing? CallowlandChris
  • Score: 0

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