One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Watford: Build Croxley Link & Keep "Watford Met"
The Mayor of London's been told to RE-THINK plans to close the end of the Met-Line to Watford - if and when a new Croxley Link is built to Watford Junction.
Commuters watchdog London Travelwatch has formally backed one of the original options to KEEP a spur line open to the Watford Met as well as building the new Croxley Link to the south of Watford station; passing the hospital and joining the main line station at Watford Junction.
Councillor Peter Jeffree - who's campaigned to keep the line open says passenger numbers might not be that great on a service JUST to Watford station but would make a big difference to those who DO use it: "It's used by many people in the Cassiobury Triangle - but it's also used by students going to and from the Grammar school and very heavily by students going to West Herts College and also by commuters coming from North West London to work in Watford. And I think they'll all be much much disadvantaged."
Cllr Jeffree added: "If it were to close and if we had to walk across to the Ascot Road - a 15 minute journey suddenly becomes a half-hour walk for many people in the Cassiobury area - and I think that would force a lot of people onto the roads and off the rails."
The London Travelwatch proposal:
London Underground Limited (LUL) initiated the closure process for discontinuance of services to and from Watford station, if and when the Croxley Rail Link becomes operational. The Railways Act 2005 requires London TravelWatch to consider this proposal and any objections to the proposal and the independent passenger watchdog has produced a report for the Mayor of London who will decide what action to take. In its report, London TravelWatch's Closures Panel considered any hardship it considered will be caused by the proposed closure and made a series of recommendations.
The main findings and recommendations from the report include:
The closure of Watford station will result in hardship to some existing passengers but this will be largely alleviated by the implementation of the Croxley Rail Link project that will provide two new accessible stations giving access to the Metropolitan line. LUL have stated that any closure of Watford station would not take place until the proposed Croxley Rail Link project is operational.
For about half of existing passengers there will be a longer walking journey to the proposed new stations, but this additional walk will be short for most.
Only a small number of existing passengers will have longer than a 15 minute additional journey but a requirement for Hertfordshire County Council to make pedestrian and cycling route improvements and provide a bus service between the Cassiobury Park area and the new stations for a period of three years would reduce this hardship.
London TravelWatch recommends that a discretionary fare is agreed, for a limited time period, to allow the small group of passengers who, in the event of closure of Watford Station, would have to either walk to the new fare zone 7 stations or pay the additional fare from Watford High Street and Watford Junction stations, to use the Metropolitan line at London fare zone 7 levels.
London TravelWatch also believes that there is a business case for a Croxley Rail Link that retains Watford station as part of a split service, albeit with fewer overall benefits than LUL's preferred option.
The Closure Panel recommends that a trial split service is trialled, serving both Watford and Watford Junction stations, to determine the real passenger numbers and issues involved with the running of a split service serving both Watford and Watford Junction stations prior to a final decision on the closure of Watford station.
The trial could last for two years from the opening of the Croxley Rail Link to 2018 when the new signalling is due to be completed on the Metropolitan line when there will, presumably, be a major re-timetabling programme.
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