The Croxley Rail Link is just one step away from realisation after passing the Government's latest hurdle.

The Department of Transport announced last year that local transport schemes vying for central funding were to be put into two “pools”.

Both the rail link, which will join the London Underground Metropolitan line with Watford Junction station, and the Watford Junction Interchange redevelopment scheme were placed in the “pre-qualification pool” and subjected to further assessment.

This has now been completed and the rail link is one of 23 projects across the country to be pushed forward into the “development pool”, where its business case will face more scrutiny before a final decision is made in December this year.

The Watford Junction redevelopment, however, along with eight other schemes, has been omitted and will now no longer be considered for funding.

Ten transport projects already in the “development pool”, meanwhile, were given final approval.

In a letter to Watford MP Richard Harrington received today (Friday), Transport Minister Norman Baker revealed the good news about the Croxley Rail Link.

Mr Harrington said: “I am delighted that we are now in the final stages of consideration for the Croxley Rail Link proposal. I think it was getting to the point where Norman Baker would cross the corridor if he saw me around Westminster, due to my repeated reminders about the merits of the Croxley project.

“This is exciting news for Watford, and I will be doing everything I can to support the proposal as it goes forward.”

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, who alongside the MP has been lobbying for both schemes to be approved, added: “We are one step nearer. Our 'two pronged pincer movement' seems to have worked so far. It is a good scheme the business case is strong and it is deliverable.”

The Watford Junction project was rejected due to the high level of private sector funding needed to compliment the relatively small amount of Government funding involved.

But it is hoped that once the economy improves, it can be resurrected.

Watford Borough Councillor Nigel Bell (Labour), who is also a County Councillor, welcomed the news about the rail link.

He added: "I am disappointed though that the junction project has been omitted, especially for the reasons given.

"How ironic that it was rejected due to the high level of private sector funding needed to compliment the relatively small amount of Government money.

"I thought the Tory-Lib Dem Government were telling everyone after their cuts to public finances not to worry as the private sector will step in to invest.

"It is a worry in relation to the Health Campus where we assured that it didn't necessarily need so much public investment."

Councillor Stuart Pile, Hertfordshire County Council’s executive member for highways and transport, said: “This is fantastic news for the scheme and for Hertfordshire’s residents.

"Securing a place in the next stage towards funding is a great achievement at a time when public finances are so tight.

"Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), London Underground and Network Rail will now progress towards obtaining powers to construct the scheme through the submission of a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO).”