New Hertsmere MP bidding to quash Park Street rail freight project

MP Oliver Dowden

MP Oliver Dowden - Credit: Photo supplied

Oliver Dowden, new MP for Hertsmere, is determined to prevent the rail freight scheme.

A recently elected MP is using his new role to try to quash the rail freight terminal scheme.

Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, who lives in St Albans, has written to Network Rail and the Department for Transport (DfT), as well as tabling parliamentary questions about the proposed strategic interchange.

He has joined forces with St Albans MP Anne Main, a long-time opponent of the scheme, to “explore every avenue to frustrate this proposal”.

In a letter to Network Rail he pointed out that should the terminal go ahead, significant modifications would have to be carried out on Elstree Tunnel to accommodate the many large freight trains that would need to pass through it.

Oliver has asked Network Rail whether a feasibility study has been undertaken for the project as changes would involve lowering the track that passes through the tunnel and if so, to publicise its findings.

He also asked whether, as the authority is responsible for the UK’s rail network, it would carry out the work and who would foot the bill for the project.

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Oliver is also concerned about the impact upon Thameslink commuters and how they would be hit by any closures should tunnel modifications be carried out.

Last Tuesday Claire Perry, Parliamentary Under Secretary of state at the DfT, said it was the responsibility of the developer - Helioslough - along with Network Rail to undertake any feasibility study, cost analysis or modifications necessary to rail tunnels to construct the required clearance.

In a further statement Oliver said: “I am unconvinced there has been a proper assessment of the impact of the terminal on the Thameslink commuter service. I understand that tunnels cannot currently accommodate the trains proposed.

“This would be a major project with considerable cost that would almost certainly necessitate the closure of at least one tunnel to accommodate the work.”

He added that Network Rail had yet to respond to his query, and the DfT has “passed the buck” to the Department for Communities and Local Government.