Plans to increase the number of trains running on the Abbey Line have been given a huge boost.

There are aspirations to introduce a 'passing loop' on the Abbey Line, which runs between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey.

Currently it is one single line, operated by London Northwestern Railway, running every 45 minutes.

Because it is a single line, it is not possible for trains to run in both directions at the same time - but a railway group has spent years trying to change that.

The Abbey Flyer Users Group wants to create a 'passing loop' helping to improve the frequency of train journeys - potentially this could be a siding along the track which a train driver can pull into until the train coming in the opposite direction has passed.

Today, the government announced this project had been successful in funding to take the proposals further.

The Abbey Line is one of ten projects which will share £500,000 from the Ideas Fund from the larger Restoring Your Railway Fund.

This money will help those involved in the Abbey Line plans progress their proposals towards developing a business case.

The news has been welcomed by the MP's for Watford and St Albans.

Dean Russell, MP for Watford, said: “I am delighted that we will now receive Government funding to develop proposals for the Abbey Flyer Passing Loop in more detail, which will bring huge benefits to people living and working in Watford.

"I know some people have said that the line is under-utilised, but this why I believe it needs investment.

"The bread and butter of what commuters in Watford say they want is reduced waiting times and increased speed of journey.

"The Abbey Flyer Users Group have worked tirelessly to secure proper investment and I was delighted to support their proposal. I would also like to thank my colleague Daisy Cooper MP and Hertfordshire County Council for collaborating in supporting this proposal."

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: "‘I’m delighted that the passing loop on the Abbey Line has taken a big step forwards today. I’m pleased to have supported the Abbey Rail User group, who have been working hard to make this happen for many years.

"Making it easier, greener and quicker to travel in our area is so important. Schemes like this are more important than ever for our local economy and our environment.

"Now the government must give this vital scheme the green light, so we can finally see proper investment to improve the Abbey Line."

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper said: "Creating a passing loop on the Abbey Line is an absolute no-brainer so it's really encouraging news that the funding application to government that would deliver this has moved to the next stage.

"It's a huge testament to the the Abbey Flyer Users' Group, the numerous residents associations along the line and politicians of all parties, who have kept banging the drum for this much overdue investment.

"Investing in this vital link will help local residents travel for work and pleasure and crucially, it will help us tackle the climate crisis by getting cars off the road.

"As the MP for St Albans I was delighted to back this application alongside the MP for Watford, and I urge the Government to give the passing loop the green light in the final round."

Derrick Ashley, Hertfordshire county councillor and chairman of the Abbey Line Community Rail Partnership, added: "The county council has been pushing for a passing loop for many years to improve transport, reduce congestion and support the local economy.

"This announcement is a significant step towards achieving our goal."

North Watford county councillor Asif Khan, who is the Labour spokesman for transport and economic growth, said: "As a long time advocate for the passing loop on this line, I welcome the funding for this study.

"It will unlock the economic potential for Watford and south west Hertfordshire. This will certainly help residents in the post-Covid economy.

"The government must invest in our local railways as an alternative to car travel, instead of the chronic under-funding it has received over the years.”

The Abbey Line has several stops including Watford North, Garston, Bricket Wood, How Wood, and Park Street.