Article date 29 November 2012
Revised 26 October 2016
This article was written prior to the Crossrail 2 proposal. It has not been updated in response to the Crossrail 2 proposal.
It is recommended to read article Watford and St Albans to Welwyn and Hertford prior to reading this article.
It is also recommended to read article Proposal for Aylesbury Interchange on High Speed 2 not only with reference to Aylesbury Interchange (AI) but also with reference to our proposal for a High Speed 2 to High Speed 1 link line via St Pancras International.
It is quite possible that a High Speed 2 to High Speed 1 link line via St Pancras would not run near to St Albans. However, on this website, we will assume that St Albans is within the vicinity of such a proposed link line.
References to the Abbey line are references to the line between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey.
This article hypothesises new rail services making use of the new railway lines we are discussing, as illustrated by
the plan below. These new lines are
(a) a HS2 to HS1 link line (note 1 on the plan), together with a connecting chord onto the Abbey line (note 3 on the plan);
(b) a line from Watford and St Albans to Welwyn and Hertford;
(c) a Midland Main Line connecting link from St Albans City to Watford Junction (note 2 on the plan).
We would like to hypothesise a number of new rail services. Some of our focus is on Aylesbury Interchange (AI), as referenced earlier.
Services using a Midland Main Line connecting link from St Albans City to Watford Junction (note 2 on the plan above) could run via Watford Junction to London Euston or via Kensington (Olympia). This could include a Crossrail service from Paddington on to the Midland Main Line, (that is, if the project proposed by Network Rail for Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line is implemented) although we have no specific reason to advocate such a service.
Services using a Midland Main Line connecting link from St Albans City could connect onto the HS2 to HS1 link line from the Abbey line (basically, plan note 2 to note 1 via note 3) to run to or via Aylesbury Interchange (AI).
Services via a Midland Main Line connecting link from St Albans City are not further discussed in this article.
The scope of this article is services using the line from Watford and St Albans to Welwyn and Hertford. Such services run either via Galleria at Hatfield or via Hertford Central or both. Many potential services could be envisaged. We outline a few of these.
Potentially there could be services via Hertford Central not via Galleria at Hatfield.
Potentially there could be services via Galleria at Hatfield not via Hertford Central.
Additionally, airport services via St Pancras making use of the HS2 to HS1 link line are discussed in this article.
We would like to hypothesise a rail service from Brighton/Gatwick Airport to Stansted Airport/Cambridge. Various routes would seem to be possible.
A route could be Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Redhill (change direction), Guildford, Woking, to Heathrow (via the BAA Airtrack proposal), to Aylesbury Interchange (via the line proposed as part of HS2 proposals, with change of direction at AI), to St Albans (via the HS2 to HS1 link line and a chord onto the Abbey line), Galleria at Hatfield, then crossing the East Coast Main Line at Hatfield North Junction (i.e. not routed via Welwyn), Hertford, Stansted Airport. This service would link three airports Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted via AI.
Services from AI to these three airports would not necessarily be provided by a single service linking AI to all three airports. Heathrow Airport via AI to Stansted Airport as a subset of the route above could be a service in its own right. (Alternatively, a route from AI to Stansted Airport via St Pancras and HS1 might be envisaged by use of an existing connection on to HS1 at Stratford International from the Temple Mills depot and used for Eurostar empty stock workings.)
Brighton and Gatwick Airport to AI via St Pancras and the HS2 to HS1 link line would presumably be faster than the route outlined above via Guildford. Such a service could be extended to Heathrow (via the line proposed as part of HS2 proposals). It is probable that Brighton/Gatwick Airport to Heathrow by this route would be faster than via Guildford.
A Brighton/Gatwick Airport to AI service could be extended to Stansted Airport, by running westbound on the HS2 to HS1 link line to AI, then eastbound on the same link line as the initial leg of the journey to Stansted Airport. This is unlikely. It is likely that a service from Gatwick Airport to Stansted Airport would not run via AI, so as to avoid the westbound then eastbound legs on the HS2 to HS1 link line. Let us consider how this might be achieved.
Brighton to Hertford North may be feasible as a result of the Thameslink to East Coast Main Line (ECML) project, however it is uncertain whether this would give us a route to Hertford Central and thence to Stansted Airport (related article : History of local railway lines including Hertford North connections ). Nevertheless, with a south-to-east chord at Hatfield North Junction (note 8), we have a route Brighton, Gatwick Airport, St Pancras, Thameslink to ECML, Hatfield (Main), Hertford Central, Stansted Airport.
A route from Gatwick Airport to Stansted Airport could be Brighton, Gatwick Airport, St Pancras, then via the "Saints link" to St Albans Abbey (change direction), Galleria at Hatfield then onwards to Stansted Airport. (The "Saints link" is note 10 in our article : Options for railway lines in the St Albans area .)
An alternative route could be Brighton, Gatwick Airport, Kensington (Olympia), Watford Junction, St Albans, Galleria at Hatfield then onwards to Stansted Airport.
No doubt there are other potential routes.
We have outlined the potential for (i) Gatwick Airport via AI to Heathrow Airport; (ii) Heathrow Airport via AI to Stansted Airport; (iii) Gatwick Airport to Stansted Airport (not via AI).
We would like to hypothesise a Crossrail service via Paddington to Welwyn Garden City. The route might be Crossrail (Paddington), via the national rail line past North Acton to AI (change of direction), HS2 to HS1 link line to St Albans, Galleria at Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City.
If the project proposed by Network Rail for Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line is implemented, this could provide an alternative route via Watford Junction instead of via AI, with no dependence on any HS2 to HS1 link line.
We would also like to hypothesise a Crossrail service via Liverpool Street to Welwyn. The route would be Crossrail (Liverpool Street), (Stratford), Hertford Central, Welwyn.
Combining these two ideas gives us the potential for a Crossrail circular service.
For passengers on ECML services i.e. via Welwyn, the fastest means to reach central London would be to stay on the train to Kings Cross. Changing at Welwyn would give access to other services.
The Crossrail circular service provides a feeder service to High Speed services at AI, a feeder service to ECML services at Welwyn, new routes into London via Crossrail, as also a cross-Hertfordshire (Hertfordshire East West rail) service.
Crossrail to Hertford Central would require developments in the Stratford area. Since this article was written, the Crossrail 2 proposal has been promoted. A Crossrail 2 service to Hertford Central would seem more likely than a Crossrail service.
This could be envisaged as an extension of the existing all-stations-stop service between St Albans Abbey and Watford Junction to London Euston. In the other direction, the service would reasonably be extended to a hypothesised station St Albans London Road or further. We would reasonably anticipate this service to run every 30 minutes, except perhaps in the evenings or at weekends.
A Euston shuttle might extend via Hertford Central to London Liverpool Street, thereby offering a Hertfordshire East West rail service. This would have no dependence on any HS2 to HS1 connecting line. Some services might not stop at all stations between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey. Potentially this is an alternative to the Crossrail circular service outlined above.
If the project proposed by Network Rail for Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line is implemented, we might envisage a Crossrail service to St Albans Abbey. An alternative Thameslink service might terminate at St Albans Abbey instead of at Bedford. We thereby have a passenger interchange between Crossrail and Thameslink at St Albans Abbey. The two lines to St Albans Abbey would be separate - one connected to the WCML, one to the Midland Main Line.
We have outlined a selection of potential services. Others exist. One example would be an alternative route for Thameslink to ECML, via St Albans and Galleria at Hatfield. Another would be Oxford to Cambridge via AI.
It is possible that a line from Watford and St Albans to Welwyn and Hertford might be constructed solely for use by light rail and perhaps with some form of on-street running, potentially including in Hatfield and Hertford. (This is quite separate from any proposals to convert the service from Watford to St Albans Abbey to light rail.)
Watford to Welwyn and Hertford via St Albans Abbey (including animations) includes animations. These animations show
trains arriving at and departing from St Albans Abbey. Colour-coding is used. There is no assignment of specific colours
to specific train services. Here we suggest an assignment. The assignment could perhaps be
orange : Crossrail circular service
yellow : Heathrow and AI to Stansted Airport
pink : Gatwick Airport to Stansted Airport via St Pancras and the "Saints link"
green : Gatwick Airport to Stansted Airport via Kensington (Olympia) and Watford Junction
off-green : regional service, perhaps Oxford to Cambridge via AI
red : services via St Albans City and a Midland Main Line connecting link, although not discussed in this article
blue : Euston shuttle.
This assignment is perhaps for the animation fourth scenario. In this case potentially only the green and blue services would be routed via Watford Junction, the orange, yellow and off-green services running instead via the connecting chord from the HS2 to HS1 link onto the Abbey line (note 3 on the plan at the start of this article).
Related article : Improving the service between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey