Abbey Line Passing Loop to receive Government funding to further develop plans

  • Local Watford MP Dean Russell and St Albans MP Daisy Cooper welcome Government funding to develop plans for Abbey Line passing loop.
  • Part of the Government’s £500 million commitment to reopen railway lines and stations across the country that were closed during the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

Earlier this year the Members of Parliament for Watford, Dean Russell and St Albans, Daisy Cooper collaborated to submit a proposal to the Department for Transport to secure investment in the Abbey Line.

Earlier this year the Members of Parliament for Watford, Dean Russell and St Albans, Daisy Cooper collaborated with Abbey Flyer Users Group, to develop the initial bid, making the case to ministers and officials in Whitehall that the project should progress to the next phase and receive financial support.

The project is part of the Government’s £500 million Restoring Your Railway Fund, to reopen many of the lines and stations that were closed in the 1960s – known as the Beeching cuts. The restoration of many of the Beeching lines is a core component of the Government agenda to invest in infrastructure to level up economic growth and opportunities across the whole country.

MPs were invited by Government to engage with local groups to apply for a share of £500 million committed by the Department to start re-opening rail lines and stations closed during the Beeching cuts and Dean Russell MP & Daisy Cooper MP shared a compelling proposal put together by the Abbey Flyer Users Group.

The Abbey Line is an important railway link running 6.5 miles between Watford Junction and St Albans Abbey station. As it currently runs every 45 minutes many continue to travel that route in their car, but anyone who drives that route will know how congested it can be during peak times. The train is a much quicker service but due to the infrequency it is not convenient.

The Abbey Line Passing Loop has been described by Hertfordshire County Council as amongst its most important transport needs with the Chairman of the Abbey Line Community Rail Partnership, County Councillor Derek Ashley saying in Final Report by The Railway Consultancy on the project,

"The improvement of services on the Abbey Line provides one of the important stepping stones to address the transport needs of current and future generations."

Dean Russell, MP for Watford stated:

“I am delighted that we will now receive Government funding to develop proposals for the Abbey Flyer Passing Loop in more detail, which will bring huge benefits to people living and working in Watford.

I know some people have said that the line is under-utilised, but this why I believe it needs investment. People won’t start using the line until there is a more freqent service and a passing loop will mean increased passenger demand and increased revenue through ticket sales.  The bread and butter of what commuters in Watford say they want is reduced waiting times and increased speed of journey.

The Abbey Flyer Users Group have worked tirelessly to secure proper investment and I was delighted to support their proposal. I would also like to thank my colleague Daisy Cooper MP and Hertfordshire County Council for collaborating in supporting this proposal.

The government has said that investing in transport links is essential to levelling up access to opportunities across the country, ensuring our communities are better connected and helping local economies to flourish. I am delighted to see the government support to move to this important next stage.”

St Albans MP, Daisy Cooper added:

"Creating a passing loop on the Abbey Line is an absolute no-brainer so it's really encouraging news that the funding application to government that would deliver this has moved to the next stage. It's a huge testament to the the Abbey Flyer Users' Group, the numerous residents associations along the line and politicians of all parties, who have kept banging the drum for this much overdue investment.

Investing in this vital link will help local residents travel for work and pleasure and crucially, it will help us tackle the climate crisis by getting cars off the road. As the MP for St Albans I was delighted to back this application alongside the MP for Watford, and I urge the Government to give the passing loop the green light in the final round."

Derrick Ashley, Hertfordshire County Council’s Executive Member for Growth, Infrastructure, Planning & the Economy, concluded:

“The county council has been pushing for a passing loop for many years to improve transport, reduce congestion and support the local economy. This announcement is a significant step towards achieving our goal”.