Article date 24 January 2014
Revised 14 January 2015
The article Watford and St Albans to Welwyn and Hertford proposes a railway line from Watford and St Albans to Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Hertford and Broxbourne Junction. The route is via Hatfield town centre and makes use of the former line from St Albans to Hatfield. However, this would not be easy to construct, particularly in Hatfield.
It is therefore appropriate to consider alternative possible routes that would avoid Hatfield town centre. This is the aim of this article. Notes 1 to 10 coloured pink in the plan that follows are documented in the above-mentioned article Watford and St Albans to Welwyn and Hertford .
The plan that follows extends the plan above to indicate alternative possible routes. Additional notes 11, 12, 13, 14 coloured pink are referenced later in this article.
We will now introduce options for Watford Junction to Broxbourne Junction (WATBROX) not via Hatfield town centre.
By means of a Midland Main Line connecting link from Watford Junction to St Albans City (pink note 2) and a new line eastwards north of St Albans (pink note 12), we have a potential route that avoids Hatfield town centre. An alternative means of connection between Watford Junction and St Albans City is indicated later in this article.
The East Coast Main Line (ECML) used to be 6 tracked between Hatfield and Welwyn. In the article referenced earlier we hypothesise restoration of 6 tracks between Hatfield North Junction and Welwyn to enable services to terminate at Welwyn or to change direction at Welwyn. If 6 tracks were to be restored also from Hatfield to Hatfield North Junction we might hypothesise services terminating at Hatfield or changing direction at Hatfield. We therefore have the potential for services to cross the ECML at Hatfield North Junction or to serve Welwyn or to serve Hatfield.
The drawback with this option is that train paths would be required on the busy Midland Main Line, with the potential to violate the Short Hop Principle (article TBA), (that is, of limiting the capacity on a lengthy railway line for the convenience of services that wish to use solely a brief portion of the line).
If at least some long-distance services on the Midland Main Line were re-routed to terminate other than at St Pancras, e.g. at Euston by means of the Bedford to Bletchley line, then potentially we have train paths available south of Bedford that would enable services to make use of a short hop on the Midland Main Line. If not, this route option (i.e. via St Albans City) should be considered no further.
A very different route south of Hatfield is pink note 10, with a connection from Watford Junction (pink note 11). This offers the potential for a Midland Main Line interchange at London Colney. Article : Possible new lines in the vicinity of St Albans (partly historical) with notes coloured green. However, this route would either require a short hop on the ECML or a line eastwards all the way to join the line from Seven Sisters to Cheshunt i.e. green note 13, the reason being that a connection from the Hertford loop to Hertford Central is thought to be unlikely : blue note 5 at History of local railway lines including Hertford North connections .
Pink note 13 illustrates this option. This line would cross the route of the former line from St Albans to Hatfield, possibly at Smallford. Potentially there would be a station stop on this line in the western outskirts of Hatfield, location to be determined.
Pink note 14 together with pink note 3 illustrate the potential for a station stop at St Albans Abbey for WATBROX2 or WATBROX3. This would offer no connection between WATBROX2 or WATBROX3 and the Midland Main Line, a matter we will now attempt to address. A change of direction would be necessary at St Albans Abbey since this station is a terminus.
The plan that follows, with notes coloured orange, is documented in our article Options for railway lines in the St Albans area (Neither the north-to-east chord from St Albans Abbey, pink note 14, nor the south-to-east chord from Watford Junction, pink note 11, is reproduced on the following plan.)
An extension of the "Saints link" (orange note 10) to continue in an easterly direction (orange note 19), together with pink or orange note 3, potentially offers St Albans Abbey station as a station stop for options WATBROX2 and WATBROX3.
This also offers a south to east connection between the Midland Main Line and an east-west line, via St Albans Abbey. A possible use could be Brighton/Gatwick Airport to Stansted Airport.
Orange note 19 illustrates a north to east connection between the Midland Main Line and an east-west line.
A passenger interchange between north-south services on the Midland Main Line and a Hertfordshire East West route at St Albans Abbey station is also theoretically possible : refer to orange note 20 at Options for railway lines in the St Albans area Orange note 20 also illustrates an alternative means of connection between Watford Junction and St Albans City, to which we referred earlier in this article (option WATBROX1 pink note 2), in this case via St Albans Abbey station.
Some alignments are potentially obstructed by the proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Radlett.