Rail passengers will be given a chance to have their say on proposals to introduce a new tram offering a regular service between Watford and St Albans with the launch of a consultation today.
The exciting plans would enable passengers to travel between St Albans and Watford on a regular half-hourly tram and allow for the possibility of an even greater frequency of three trams per hour.
The consultation, launched by the Department for Transport and Hertfordshire County Council, is the latest stage of the proposal, which was launched by Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis during a visit to St Albans in October.
Andrew Adonis said:
"We want to encourage more people to use public transport and the creation of a regular tram link on this line to replace the irregular train service would benefit passengers immensely. I am excited by the prospects it offers to boost business and travel opportunities in this part of Hertfordshire.
"These improvements would offer rail users a better and more flexible service. Local people are best placed to make decisions about local transport which is why I would strongly urge them to take part in the consultation."
The trams would replace the existing train service link, which currently operates on an irregular schedule with just one train every 45 minutes, providing a better service for around 450,000 passengers a year who currently use it.
Councillor Stuart Pile, Hertfordshire County Council's Executive Member for Highways and Transport, said:
“We welcome the opportunity for local control of this line and also the chance to meet our long-term goal to increase the frequency of the service. It’s very important to us that we know residents’ views on these proposals. We are eager to hear from you so please take a few minutes to look through the proposals and let us know what you think. ”
Depending on the outcome of the consultation and the completion of legal and contractual issues, the new service could be up and running in late 2011. The new service is also dependent on Network Rail agreeing to transfer control of the line and stations to Hertfordshire County Council on a long-term lease.
Notes to editors
1. The consultation is being managed by the Department of Transport according to Government guidelines, but with the support of Hertfordshire County Council, with which the Department will share responses.
2. The Watford – St Albans railway (Abbey Line) runs 6½ miles from Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey Station. There are intermediate stations at Watford North, Garston, Bricket Wood, How Wood and Park Street and the end to end journey currently takes around 16 minutes.
3. Work by transport consultants Mott MacDonald working on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council has demonstrated that using lightweight rail vehicles (probably previously used elsewhere in Europe) ought to allow a more frequent service to be provided within the funding used for the current service.
4. The line is currently operated by London Midland.
5. It is expected that through fares would continue to be available on the new service.
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