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Public inquiry into the Croxley Rail Link
A public inquiry into the Croxley Rail Link project started in Watford this week, giving the scheme’s promoters and opposers a chance to air their views.
Top of the bill was the controversial closure of Watford met station in Cassiobury.
Roxanne Glaud, from the county council, described the need for the rail link, how Watford has underperformed economically and how east to west traffic is increasingly difficult.
She said the project will provide “significantly improved public transport opportunities”, and how it will open up employment opportunities in areas of West Watford where car ownership is lowest.
She added: “Many of the major trunk roads [in and around Watford] have high and increasing traffic volumes. Some are at or over capacity, leading to rat running in local streets.
“This is unattractive to enable economic growth in the town.”
Speaking to Ms Glaud, Michael Fish, from Cassiobury Park Avenue, asked whether the county council had always been supportative of closing Watford met station.
Ms Glaud said: “The scheme is based on providing a better service for all users, meaning for the Croxley Rail Link to proceed, Watford met would have to close. It was on that basis that we got funding.”
Later on, Steve Hunter, associate with Steer Davies Gleave, examined the effect the rail link will have on road and rail traffic in Watford.
He said: “Overall, just under 300 peak hour car journeys are removed from the local road network.
“The number of passengers benefitting from a reduced journey time considerably exceeds the relatively small number of existing passengers whose overall journey time increases because of the closure of Watford Met station.
“For example, 28,333 additional residents would have Met Line journey times between 60-80 minutes, whereas 2,215 who previously were within this time band would now have longer journey times.
“The scheme brings an additional 5,100 residents to within 800m of a new Met line station, or 14,300 including Watford High Street and Watford Junction.”
Mr Hunter said the closure of the Met station would mean it would take Watford Grammar School for Boys pupils an extra six minutes to walk from Ascot Road.
The closure would also increase the journey time to Cassiobury Park by 14 minutes.
Mr Hunter said the impact of the closure on journey times was “positive overall”.
Keith Foley, head of transport planning for London Underground, then explained how if Watford Met station was kept open, about 30 percent of Watford Met and Watford Junction trains would start their next southbound journey late.
Finally, Terry Gould, part owner of Croxley Cars in Baldwins Lane, spoke at the public inquiry about how the rail project would put him out of business.
A viaduct will be built across the A412, and one of the “piers” holding it up will be sited on land used by Croxley Cars.
Mr Gould said: “This will wipe my business out completely.
“If it was slightly diverted by a few degrees it wouldn’t affect my site at all.
“It appears it could be very easily moved so the viaduct goes over the existing bridge instead.”
Martin Morris, principal permanent way engineer, Sinclair Knight Merz, said the position of the viaduct was critical.
He said: “The Baldwins Lane bridge must remain where it is until the rail link is open so that the Met line can continue to run.
“To move the viaduct would mean the bridge would have to be completely reconstructed, closing the met line for 12 months.
“If the viaduct was moved the other way, it would make a 200 metre radius which is sharper than London Underground permit.
“It would cause rail wheel squeal, which due to the height of the viaduct, would be heard over half of Watford.”
The inquiry continues next week.
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