St Albans and Hertsmere MPs question viability of rail freight depot after meeting with rail bosses

Oliver Dowden meeting with Network Rail.

Oliver Dowden meeting with Network Rail. - Credit: Archant

MPs for St Albans and Radlett met with Network Rail bosses in Westminster to discuss concerns about the controversial Radlett rail freight terminal proposal.

Anne Main meeting with Network Rail.

Anne Main meeting with Network Rail. - Credit: Archant

St Albans MP Anne Main and Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden, whose constituency covers Radlett, met with Network Rail (NR) representatives who are directly accountable for the delivery of freight and passenger services across the network.

Mrs Main said: “Network Rail were at pains to stress that they were obliged to prioritise passenger services, which the [rail] minister previously confirmed to me. While I’m content with the stated obligations that commuters are prioritised, I still have grave concerns over the viability of rail freight.

“The ability of NR to deliver the necessary upgrades that would be needed for a strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) with minimal disruption is still highly questionable. While Network Rail continually sought to reassure me that the SRFI would work in tandem with passenger services, we’re still a long way from firm answers on infrastructure upgrades and connectivity.”

Mr Dowden also expressed his concern on the disruption the construction of the rail freight terminal would cause.

Put the Brakes on Freight - Herts Advertiser campaign

Put the Brakes on Freight - Herts Advertiser campaign - Credit: Archant

He said: “I was very concerned to hear from Network Rail about the potential for disruption to passengers on Thameslink resulting from Helioslough’s plans to build a freight terminal on this Green Belt land.

“The works required to make the site functional are extensive and much of it cannot be accomplished while the main line is operating.

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“I know that commuters in Hertsmere remain deeply frustrated with the poor level of service offered by Thameslink. Alongside my ongoing concerns over how any additional freight on an already busy line will be accommodated, I fear the effect on commuters of building works on the line will be serious.

“Should Helioslough succeed in acquiring this Green Belt land and moving this project forward, then I will be demanding Network Rail make sure they prioritise long-suffering commuters rather than construction of this unnecessary and disruptive freight terminal.”

The rail freight depot is dependent on the county council selling developers Helioslough the land.