Association of Train Operating Companies comes out against Radlett rail freight plan
RAIL passengers protection group ATOC has come out strongly against development of a rail freight depot in Park Street. The response of the Association of Train Operating Companies, which works in conjunction with industry partners such as Network Rail an
RAIL passengers protection group ATOC has come out strongly against development of a rail freight depot in Park Street.
The response of the Association of Train Operating Companies, which works in conjunction with industry partners such as Network Rail and the Department for Transport in terms of strategic planning and development, has just been received by St Albans district council.
And it adds a huge amount of weight to the fears First Capital Connect (FCC) has about the impact on passengers and services if freight traffic is allowed to use a proposed new depot at Radlett Airfield.
Not only does ATOC fully support the strong objections raised by FCC but it has raised some additional concerns about the proposal from Helioslough which will be decided at a meeting of St Albans council's planning referrals meeting at the Alban Arena at 7pm on Monday night.
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ATOC's rail planning support manager, David Smith, said in his letter of objection that it would be "practically impossible" to fit in additional trains on the heavily used section of the Midland Mainline south of Luton because of the complex interaction of fast and slow trains, journey times and the heavy commuter flows north of St Albans to Bedford.
He points out that initial work for the Thameslink Project indicates there will already be hard choices ahead, such as slowing down FCC trains and reducing St Albans to Luton stopping trains without additional freight pressure.
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Mr Smith does not accept Network Rail's assertion that a rail freight terminal in Park Street can be accommodated, saying, "even primary capacity work shows conflicts and pressures."
He also raises the issues of access to the proposed terminal which would seriously impact on capacity and performance of passenger trains and the need to carry out extensive and expensive route clearance on the line which would involve major structural challenges.
Confirming that ATOC supports FCC's strong objections, Mr Smith adds: "Other terminal developments noted in the UK have been on routes where gauge and capacity issues are either non-controversial or easily remedied."
St Albans MP Anne Main who is a strong supporter of STRiFE, the action group set up to oppose the rail freight scheme, commented: "It is fantastic news which bears out completely what FCC know to be the case that this will be hugely detrimental to passenger services.
"Network Rail cannot keep putting their head in the sand and making vague assurances that it will be alright.