Croxley Rail Link Granted Transport Works Act Order
The Croxley Rail Link – which will see the Metropolitan Line diverted from Watford to Watford Junction, via new stations at Ascot Road, Watford Hospital – and Watford High Street, has been granted a Transport Works Act Order. This means that the necessary legal permissions for the project, for which finance has already been agreed, have been gained and it can now proceed.
We last covered the Croxley Rail Link in detail in December 2011, when the details of final funding and project breakdown first became clear. Those interested in reviewing the full details of the project can find them on that post here.
In essence, the project utilises the disused Croxley Branch line, and sections of new viaduct, to divert the Metropolitan to Watford Junction via the new stations named above.
A project led by Herts Council with active support from TfL, the total budget for the work runs to only £115m. Approximately £76m of this comes from the DfT, £7m from developers and the rest from the council itself who have secured a loan to cover the remainder of the cost. In an innovative piece of financing, TfL have agreed to remit operating profits from the new extension back to the council until that loan has been repaid.
As a result of the restricted costs, there is an emphasis on reusing existing assets to create the extension. This means that those expecting some element of the existing track and station at Watford to remain in place for future use will probably be disappointed. Track and ballast will be pulled up and reused where possible, and the ticket machines and other internal station assets will likely be reused at Ascot Road.
The new stations will also be relatively sparsely fitted out. Indeed the council had originally hoped that London Underground would agree to them being unmanned, but this proposal was rejected. Luckily the additional cost of providing staff accommodation was partially compensated for by the fact that platform extensions at Watford Junction will not now be required. These were initially thought necessary as the new S-Stock (of which a further unit has been ordered as part of the project) will overhang the platforms there, something that would normally contravene Network Rail guidelines. Network Rail have agreed, however, to grant a dispensation in this instance.
Overall the extension represents an interesting, council led project to improve local rail connections in Watford – and no doubt other councils and boroughs will be watching to see how successful it proves to be, with work beginning in 2014 and a projected 2016 opening.
As a final note, we’ll admit that it is also a project that we have a certain amount of affection for here at LR Towers – our very first post was about the proposed project, and with our fifth birthday approaching next month, the timing of the Croxley announcement seems strangely appropriate…