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Article date 07 February 2010
Revised 14 January 2015

Radlett freight terminal

We do not know the extent to which proposals for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange on the former Radlett aerodrome would be compatible, or incompatible, with our proposals in this locality. Rail alignments are potentially obstructed by the proposed freight terminal.

In years to come, we might hope that we will be provided with a strategy for Hertfordshire East West rail, potentially as part of overall transport connections for the Oxford to Cambridge arc. Once this is in place, compatibility of the proposed freight terminal with such a strategy could be determined. In the meantime, we are left somewhat in the dark.

Our article Watford Junction to Broxbourne Junction : route not via Hatfield town centre includes a number of options to consider for Watford Junction to Broxbourne Junction (WATBROX). We will comment briefly here on some aspects of compatibility with the proposed freight terminal.

Firstly, option WATBROX1. This requires a Midland Main Line connecting link between St Albans City and Watford Junction. Options for such a connecting link are discussed in our article Options for railway lines in the St Albans area . Both this article and our article Watford to Welwyn and Hertford via St Albans Abbey (including animations) comment that some potential alignments might be obstructed by the proposed freight terminal. This is all the more sad since, if a strategy for Hertfordshire East West rail were in place, not only would compatibility of the freight terminal be subject to verification but also there would be potential to leverage a contribution from the developer of the freight terminal to finance construction of such an east west line. A double loss.

Secondly, other options. These potentially offer an interchange station at London Colney. However it seems the proposed Radlett freight terminal could obstruct an east west line on such an alignment.

Thirdly, option WATBROX2. An east west Orbital railway line south of Hatfield provides us with new rail links, opening up possibilities for a more suitable site than the former Radlett aerodrome for a freight terminal. Although our visit was several years ago, it seems to us that the vicinity of M25 junction 22, on this rail link, offers potential for a freight terminal.

What use for the former Radlett aerodrome site?

The former Radlett aerodrome site is a brownfield site and therefore liable for redevelopment. It is also alongside the Midland Main Line. We wish to suggest a possible use. With growth in rail travel, there is a need for rail depots. The proposals by High Speed 2 Ltd to redevelop the Old Oak Common site, which incorporates several rail depots, strengthens the case for a rail depot to be considered as a possibility for the Radlett site.

Although rail depots generate some noise, they do not necessitate heavy goods vehicle (HGV) traffic. A weakness in the proposals for a freight terminal at Radlett is the noise and disturbance from HGV traffic with little mitigation offered. The site might be better thought of as a rail depot than as a freight terminal.