Is this what you want?

HCC want to waste millions of pounds of taxpayers money on an expensive, unreliable, environmentally damaging Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network, otherwise known as ‘Guided Bus’. This means the Abbey Line’s rails and overhead line would be ripped up, and the character of the branch will be irrevocably changed through the pouring of millions of tonnes of concrete to create the guideways.

Help us put a stop to this nonsense

The first and most important way of helping us oppose this is to Join ABFLY! Our influence with the train operating companies, with politicians and with the powers-that-be depends not only on the quality of our interventions but also on the size of our membership. Membership starts at only £5 per household per year and can be easily purchased via our Join page. You may also want to think about making a donation to our campaign.

Then, to show your opposition to the Guided Bus proposals, we need you to respond to Hertfordshire County Council’s Strategy consultation, which closes on 4th August. More details below. The easiest way to do this is to enter your details in the form below, click the ‘Send’ button and simply let us do the rest! This will send a personalised letter to Hertfordshire County Council expressing your objection to the Bus Rapid Transit proposals and your support for maintaining and improving the Abbey Line as part of the National Rail network. See below for further details.

Update 28th July 2015: We regret that we can no longer process any submissions on your behalf via the online form because we need time to print and post the letters before the 4th August deadline.

However you can still respond to the Strategy consultation by visiting the dedicated HCC webpage at www.hertsdirect.org/services/transtreets/railconsultation/

All or part of our template letter can be adopted if so desired: 

If you choose to do this, please be sure to advise us with a quick e-mail to campaigns@abfly.org.uk, so that we can keep track of the number of responses.

Background

The ‘Hertfordshire Rail Strategy’ exists to ensure that railways in this county can support economic growth and development, by agreeing investment priorities for the next fifteen to twenty years and beyond.

This document, produced by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), is important because it sets the strategic framework against which decisions regarding future rail franchises and investment in key elements of infrastructure can be identified and prioritised.

Arup was appointed by HCC in March 2014 to refresh and update the Strategy, originally published in 2011. The updated Strategy has just been released for public consultation, starting on 10th June and closing at midnight on 4th August.

Full details can be viewed at www.hertsdirect.org/services/transtreets/railconsultation/

Disappointment and a threat

The updated Strategy, in its current draft form, is a very poor deal for the Abbey Line.

Although discussed, it concludes by giving little or no priority to enhancements which we believe are so desperately required, principally:

  • Enhance the service frequency through installation of a passing loop and second train
  • Run later trains (post 10pm)
  • Run through services, taking advantage of a recently installed connection at Watford Junction

Worse, rather than champion these relatively simple and well-understood improvements employing proven technology, HCC want to waste millions of pounds of taxpayers money on an expensive, unreliable, environmentally damaging Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network, otherwise known as ‘Guided Bus’. This means the Abbey Line’s rails and overhead line would be ripped up, and the character of the branch will be irrevocably changed through the pouring of millions of tonnes of concrete to create the guideways.

BRT is a technology with limited applicability, typically for small sections of inner city running where buses are required to run at relatively high speed and close together. But there is absolutely no benefit in demolishing perfectly serviceable inter-urban electrified railway lines, such as the Abbey Line, that already provide a valuable and environmentally-friendly service to their local communities.

Environmental damage

Apart from the relative unpopularity of bus travel versus rail travel, there are serious environmental concerns about BRT technology.

Firstly, there are the not insubstantial carbon emissions associated with the pouring of millions of tonnes of concrete to create the guideways.

Secondly, the replacement of electric trains (zero emissions at the point of use) with diesel buses (direct polluters) will only serve to increase local levels of noxious gases and particulates – with direct impacts on the health of local residents.

Finally, as dictated by physics, vehicles with rubber tyres on concrete roads are inherently less energy efficient as mass people carriers than vehicles with steel tyres on steel rails.

Pay peanuts, get monkeys

BRT has been imposed as an experiment in ‘low cost’ mass transit in other parts of the UK with decidedly disappointing results.

The Cambridge Guided Busway cost nearly three times as much as originally planned, opened 2.5 years late, is still beset by technical difficulties and now appears to be in a slowly advancing state of decay.

Moreover it took away, forever, what could have been a locally and strategically important rail link for both passengers and freight.

Read more about this disaster here: http://www.railfuture.org.uk/article1545-Paving-over-tracks

How you can help

The only hope for putting HCC ‘back on the right track’ is by responding to their consultation.

It is imperative that as many individuals respond to this consultation as possible. Our aim is to overwhelm HCC with the sheer number of respondents that agree with our view. They will then have no choice but to listen.

To make this easier, we have prepared a standard, detailed feedback letter.

You can either:

  1. Download the letter, amend as you see fit, address it, sign it and return it to:
    Rail Consultation 2015, Freepost SG569, Transport, Access and Safety Unit, Hertfordshire County Council, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8BR.
  2. Fill in your details to the form at the top of this page, hit ‘Send’ and we will do all of that for you!

Update 28th July 2015: We regret that we can no longer process any submissions on your behalf via the online form because we need time to print and post the letters before the 4th August deadline.

However you can still respond to the Strategy consultation by visiting the dedicated HCC webpage at www.hertsdirect.org/services/transtreets/railconsultation/

All or part of our template letter can be adopted if so desired: 

If you choose to do this, please be sure to advise us with a quick e-mail to campaigns@abfly.org.uk, so that we can keep track of the number of responses.

Don’t forget you can also join ABFLY online via our Join page. Every new member is extra strength to our elbow. You can also make a Donation to help us fight these proposals, or simply join our Mailing List to keep abreast of emerging developments.

Thank you for your support.