Department for Transport
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Watford and St Albans passengers on track for new tram service
Rail passengers travelling between Watford and St Albans are in line for more regular and more frequent services thanks to exciting plans to create a new tram service announced today by Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis and Hertfordshire County Council.
The proposed improvements would enable passengers to travel between St Albans and Watford on a regular half-hourly tram and allow for the possibility of an even greater frequency of three trams per hour. The trams would replace the existing train service link, which currently operates on an irregular schedule with just one train every 45 minutes, providing a better service for around 450,000 passengers a year who currently use it.
Andrew Adonis said:
"To encourage more people to use public transport, it's vital we give passengers a service which suits them. The proposed new trams would provide a more regular service and I am glad to be working with Hertfordshire County Council to take forward these exciting plans.
"The improvements would offer travellers the prospect of a better and more flexible service. Local people are best placed to make decisions about local transport which is why I am delighted that Hertfordshire County Council will be taking responsibility for this new tram service."
Under the changes, which will now be subject to a 12 week DfT consultation, responsibility for the line would transfer from Network Rail to Hertfordshire Country Council, which would then put the service out to tender.
Councillor Stuart Pile, Hertfordshire County Council's Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said:
“Hertfordshire County Council has worked hard through the Community Rail Partnership to develop and promote this line. We have had many successes since founding the Partnership in June 2005, particularly with improving the condition of stations and raising passenger numbers by around 20 per cent.
"However, this proposal offers to move things on dramatically and to deliver a much more useful link in the local transport network which suffers from considerable traffic congestion.”
Depending on the outcome of the consultation and the completion of legal and contractual issues, the new service could be up and running in 2011. The new service is also dependant on Network Rail agreeing to transfer control of the line and stations to Hertfordshire County Council on a long-term lease.
Notes to Editors
1. The Watford – St Albans railway (Abbey Line) runs 6 ½ miles from Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey Station. There are intermediate stations at Watford North, Garston, Bricket Wood, How Wood and Park Street and the end to end journey takes around 16 minutes.
2. Work by transport consultants Mott MacDonald working on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council has demonstrated that using light weight rail vehicles (probably previously used elsewhere in Europe) ought to allow a more frequent service to be provided within the funding currently used for the current service.
3. The line is currently operated by London Midland.
4. Through fares would continue to be available on the new service.
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