UK: Three transport consultancies have been awarded contracts to independently develop innovative and ‘creative, but deliverable, viable and feasible’ concepts for transport on the Watford to Croxley Link.

The disused railway between Croxley and Watford Junction was to have been used for the Metropolitan Line Extension project to divert the London Underground. This was eventually cancelled as being unaffordable, but Hertfordshire County Council says the challenges which the project was intended to address still remain, and it is working with Watford Borough Council, Three Rivers District Council and Network Rail on new ideas for the alignment.

The council has previously suggested that these options could include active travel, e-mobility, autonomous shared mobility such as pod vehicles, or various forms of mass rapid transit.

Atkins, Systra and Wood Group have now been awarded contracts worth £25 000 to develop design concepts by spring 2023. Up to two of these concepts will then then progress to further developemnt under contracts of up to £100 000 each. This could lead to the production of a strategic outline case to support future bids for funding.

‘Improving our public transport options is a key objective in our sustainable transport strategy’, said Peter Taylor, elected Mayor of Watford, on August 24. ‘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.’

The county council is also developing options for the HERT mass rapid transit project which would connect Hemel Hempstead and Harlow, and it is exploring potential enhancement of the Watford Junction – St Abbey branch line through the Restoring Your Railway fund.