St Albans MP Anne Main pushes Network Rail for clarity on rail freight

St Albans MP Anne Main speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, May 21.

St Albans MP Anne Main speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, May 21. - Credit: Archant

St Albans MP Anne Main is pushing for clarity on how the already stretched Thameslink line could accommodate rail freight carriages.

Anne Main with campaigners at High Court

Anne Main with campaigners at High Court - Credit: Archant

In light of ongoing train disruption, she has written to Network Rail (NR) to ask again how a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) planned for Park Street Green Belt would be viable alongside the passenger line.

The letter, addressed to CEO Mark Carne, said: “I wanted to write to you yet again to outline my serious concerns and objections towards the proposed Radlett SFRI that would have such a major impact on my constituents.”

Mrs Main believes if NR had given evidence at the SRFI outline planning appeal in 2014, the proposal would have been scrapped rather than approved by former communities secretary Eric Pickles.

If a rail depot is not viable, Mrs Main is worried the Park Street buildings will be repurposed as a lorry terminal - further clogging congested St Albans roads.

“I have always maintained that this site, with a lack of ability to expand, constrained in access and without adequate pathings, will not function as an SRFI,” she said.

Mrs Main has thrown her backing behind housing on the site instead: “If there is one thing we have learned from the rail chaos at the moment, it is that NR have once again proved themselves incapable of delivering on their assurances.

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“Commuters up and down the line will be majorly impacted by an SRFI and we have been given no detail whatsoever by NR.

“To carry on with this proposal without any guarantees from NR is crazy. I sincerely hope we will see much needed housing built on this site.”

St Albans district council are currently considering building 2,300 homes on the Herts county council owned land - despite threats of legal action from SRFI developers HelioSlough if it continues to do so.

Mrs Main also blasted the timetabling “calamity” still affecting passengers: “My commuters have been disgusted at the level of service that they are currently enduring and will not tolerate future chaos being generated on this line.

“The ongoing rail disruption is a prime example of a lack of detailed, realistic and competent planning and I have no doubt that NR should take their share of the blame for that.”