We have tried to provide the most objective comparison between the Busway and Railways with passing loop proposals for simplicity.  More details about each can be found in the previous two articles about the Busway and the Railway.



Reliability No ability to overtake

Limited suitable busses

No ability to overtake

Limited suitable trains

Capital costs £90m (similar schemes have doubled in cost) £10m (estimate very similar to actual cost for Penryn)
Capacity For comparison we use 5 busses with capacity for 380 with 394 for 2 X 2 car trains
Running costs About the same
Frequency Every 8 minutes Every 23 – 30 minutes
Journey duration 24 minutes 16 minutes
Average wait + journey (0.5*wait + journey time) 28 minutes 27.5 – 31 minutes1
Network benefits Integration into bus network Integration into train network
Customer experience Declining bus usage Increasing train usage
Environmental Unknown for the bus – could be electric or diesel

Installation not environmentally friendly

Electric train
Safety A number of incidents on the Luton busway where busses have jumped the track. UK Rail standards
Future potential Potential for through running to other locations in Hertfordshire Potential for through running to London Euston


The retention of the Abbey Line as a railway provides a number of advantages including speed, environmental impact, lower capital expenditure, customer experience along with rail network benefits. The investment in a passing loop is also a lower risk option and a much smaller investment for the improved frequency which the bus way would provide. The downsides of this is that the county council don’t have as much control rail and can’t make some of the decisions unilaterally but need to champion the changes to the Department for Transport.

The improvements to the Abbey Line with an addition of a passing loop would open up the potential of the line and cost substantially less than the guided busway. We feel this is the best way forward but we leave the decision for you, the readers, to make up your mind.

If there are advantages or disadvantages which we have missed out we would be very glad to hear from you.

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1 23 minutes based on twice the current frequency and 30 minutes to align with Watford to Euston services