Proposals to revive a disused railway line between Watford and Croxley Green are to be explored by three transport consultancies.
Travel experts will now look at a range of ideas for the potential Watford to Croxley Link (W2CL).
The scheme has been put forward as an alternative option to the Metropolitan Line Extension (MLX) – which was cancelled in 2018.
W2CL aims to interlink important parts of Watford with Croxley Green, as well as providing access to the wider travel network.
The proposed route would connect areas such as Watford town centre, Watford General Hospital, Watford FC and Croxley Park with Croxley Green and Watford Junction.
Atkins, SYSTRA UK and Wood Group will work with Hertfordshire County Council, Watford Borough Council, Three Rivers District Council and Network Rail on solutions to improve connectivity across the area.
Passenger rail services to Croxley Green ended in 1996. A recent survey published by Watford Borough Council found over 80% of 1000 respondents agreed that changes to Watford’s transport network were necessary.
Elected Mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor, said: “Improving our public transport options is a key objective in our sustainable transport strategy.
“I am determined to make this connection a reality for the benefit of our residents and local businesses. This is why we are providing funding, and taking a lead role in the project.
“It is a very positive sign that three leading engineering consultancies want to work with us.
“Bringing this line back into use will help cut congestion in Watford and I’m looking forward to seeing the solutions they put forward.”
Leader of Three Rivers District Council, Councillor Sarah Nelmes, added: “At a time when we want to see reduced emissions – any new transport link which helps residents get where they want to be without having to get in their cars would be welcome in Three Rivers.
“The links between Watford and Three Rivers are vital as so many of our services are shared – including schools, shops, and a range of other resources and infrastructure.
“Improved transport links of any form could provide accessible and convenient routes that help people switch from car usage.”
Plans for the W2CL project are expected to align with the county wide movement towards Active Travel – which is encouraging more people to walk and cycle as part of their daily journey.
Executive Member for Highways and Transport at Hertfordshire County Council, Phil Bibby, commented: “Across the county we are investing in active and public transport to better connect our towns and villages, and help people get where they need to go without using a car.
“As well as this link between Watford and Croxley, we are exploring options for upgrading the Watford to St Albans Abbey Line, and working on plans for a new HERT rapid transit system that will connect Hemel Hempstead to Harlow.
“By delivering infrastructure that meets the needs of our communities, we’ll help to deliver a cleaner, greener and healthier Hertfordshire.”
Director for Network Rail’s West Coast South route, James Dean, said: “We’re pleased to be working with our partners in Hertfordshire to explore how disused railway land between Watford and Croxley Green could be repurposed to help better connect local people and increase the provision of sustainable journeys in the area.”
A budget of £275k has been set aside for the development of W2CL.
The three travel consultancies involved with the project will submit their conceptual designs by Spring 2023.
A Strategic Outline Case will then be developed to support any future bids for funding opportunities.