St Albans Abbey Flyer users fund raising to improve train line

A London Midland class 321 pulls into Bricket Wood station with a service to Watford Junction. Credi

A London Midland class 321 pulls into Bricket Wood station with a service to Watford Junction. Credit: Peter Alvey Photography - Credit: Archant

Frustrated train users are crowdfunding to expand the Abbey Flyer from a shuttle service to a two train operation.

The Abbey Flyer Users Group (AFUG) has already raised almost £4,000 for a feasibility study into the creation of a passing loop on the Abbey Line tracks.

It would enable two trains to run on the 160-year-old 6.5 mile line between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey stations - there is currently one service every 45 minutes Monday to Saturday, and hourly on Sundays.

AFUG imagines the crossover point could be created at Bricket Wood and believes a more frequent service would encourage commuters to switch from road to rail.

New signalling technology and a second platform at the loop would also be needed to facilitate the crossover.

Chairman of the group, David Horton, denounced past studies: “Though there have been several studies in the past, costing millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money, none of them have been transparent and none of them have delivered a single iota of improvement on the Abbey Line.

“Being completed largely ‘behind closed doors’, as such we, the users, have never been able to examine the detail of what needs to be done, challenge the assumptions and look at innovative new ways of doing things. Now, by setting the terms of reference and raising the money for ourselves, we have the opportunity to demonstrate what we firmly believe to be the case - that there is a demand for a higher frequency service on the Abbey Line and it can be delivered cost-effectively.”

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The £6,000 feasibility study results would inform whether AFUG’s scheme had longevity.

Herts county Cllr Sandy Walkington is supporting the campaign: “This is the Cinderella railway line. With a bit of love and investment it could be transformed, delivering real benefits to one of the most congested corridors in Hertfordshire. I welcome anything which can unlock its potential.”

Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst added: “This is a key line that could greatly reduce congestion between Watford and St Albans and not only needs but deserves investment to ensure long term green travel routes are maintained. Anything to improve it is welcomed and should be supported.”

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