The Abbey Line is a 6.5 mile electrified railway line connecting Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey station. In its current form the line permits a single train which shuttles between the two stations.  The current railways line is suitable for heavy rail, the same as you would get connecting Watford or St Albans with London. As opposed to a tram which you might find in the center of Birmingham or Manchester.

Advantage of retaining the Abbey Line as a rail line

  • Speed
    • The journey from Watford to St Albans is around 16 minutes, quicker than the current bus system and likely to be faster or as fast as the guided busway system.
  • Cost
    • The cost of a guided busway is estimated to be £90m.  This could be invested in a second track along the Abbey Line or in a passing loop around Bricket Wood Station for around £10m. Such improvements would result in a service every 20 minutes by train. Which will significantly cut down the current waiting times.
  • Environmental
    • Electric trains produce less noise compared to diesel engines (both diesel train and bus).  Since the Abbey Line is an electric railway there is no need for the train to have an engine and so this will be much quieter than alternatives.
    • Additionally as an electric railway line air pollution is a lot lower, especially in built up areas.  For the same capacity the train produces 88% CO2 less and is even 40% less polluting than a single bus. 
    • Concrete pouring is CO2 intensive which is an issue for the environment but specifically in Bricket Wood which is within a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
  • Train network benefits
  • Potential future train network benefits
    • After the go live of HS2 there is the possibility of through trains from the Abbey Line connecting on to Euston, which would not be possible if the Abbey Line is turned into a bus way.
    • Potential extension into Watford High Street  or Metropolitan station via Watford Junction, St Albans City station via the reinstatement of previously removed track which could go even further east, like it used to, to Hatfield and beyond.
  • Customer Experience

This series concludes with a comparison between the Busway and Railways solutions.