Article for the Independence

The issue of the Metropolitan Line, and the service provided to Rickmansworth residents, is one in which the Rickmansworth Residents Association and I have taken a keen interest.

We both have our concerns about delays to the modernisation process and we both want to see improvements in the service.  Both of us have raised the issue, in particular, of fast trains during the off-peak period.

In the last year or so, the peak period has expanded, but there is still a way to go.

These matters should not, and will not, be forgotten.  But I wanted to look a little further ahead.

The Croxley Rail Link will be an exciting improvement to our local transport network with Underground stations at Cassiobury, Vicarage Road, Watford High Street and Watford Junction. 

The latter station could well become an even more important destination if we proceed with the proposal to link the West Coast Mainline with Crossrail. This would make Watford Junction very well connected to London’s West End, the City and Canary Wharf.

The main beneficiaries of the Croxley Rail Link will be those using the Watford branch of the Metropolitan Line, including my constituents using Croxley station. 

But someone living in Rickmansworth will now be able to get a train to Moor Park, change platform and get a train into the heart of Watford.  Useful for shopping, the hospital, football , work or onward travel from Watford Junction.

However, that change at Moor Park is not exactly convenient. Four minutes south to Moor Park, a bit of a wait (could be a while if you get the timings wrong) and four minutes north to Croxley.

So why not have a direct train?  An Amersham (or Chesham) branch to Watford.  The track is already in place and the need for a Moor Park change would be removed.

Rickmansworth to Croxley would not be more than three minutes, Rickmansworth to Vicarage Road about ten minutes and Rickmansworth to Watford Junction around fifteen minutes.  And no need to worry about parking!  I think this could make a big difference to many Rickmansworth residents.

Even if you were not a user of the trains, I would be surprised if this didn’t reduce the amount of traffic on the roads, at least when Watford are playing at home.

This is not a new idea.  Hertfordshire County Council included the proposal in a local plan a few years ago and I understand there is an internal tube map from the 1990s showing the branch.  Once the Croxley Rail Link is in place, isn’t it time to have this new branch line?

I took the idea to Mike Brown, Managing Director of London Underground.  He confirmed that London Underground had looked at this before but concluded that there was insufficient demand to justify it.  However, he did say that once the Croxley Rail Link was in place, London Underground would be ‘keeping this very closely under review’.

I am mildly encouraged by that response.  But the big challenge is how do you accurately measure the demand for the service?  Looking at passengers who travel from one branch to another (eg go from Rickmansworth to Watford Junction) is helpful, but what about all those people who would make the journey if it was quicker and easier and didn’t involve a fifteen minute detour to Moor Park (doubling the journey time)?

My suggestion to London Underground is to put in place the branch service on a trial basis.  If there isn’t much demand for it, I don’t think we could complain too much if it was withdrawn.  But without a trial period, I don’t think we would ever properly know.

However, first, I need to persuade London Underground that a trial would be worthwhile.  And this is where you can help.  On my website, www.davidgauke.com, I have a petition calling for an Amersham/Watford branch.  If you think you would use the service, complete the petition and, if possible, set out how you would use it.

If we can work together, a big improvement to our transport network could be on the way.

Surgeries

David holds regular surgeries at various places in the constituency, including Rickmansworth, South Oxhey, Berkhamsted and Tring. 
 
Forthcoming dates:

2019

28th June, Rickmansworth
12th July, Tring

Call 01923 771781 to make an appointment.

Record of surgeries

 

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