Croxley Rail Link

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Croxley Rail Link
Watford West Railway Station.jpg
The disused line at Watford West railway station.
Type Rapid transit
System London Underground
Status Approved for re-opening
Locale Hertfordshire
Termini Croxley
Watford Junction
Stations 3
Planned opening 2020[1][2][3]
Operator(s) Transport for London
Line length 3.4 mi (5.47 km)
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Croxley Rail Link
Watford Junction National Rail London Overground
West Coast Main Line
Watford High Street National Rail London Overground
High Street Junction
Colne Junction
Watford DC Line
Watford Stadium Halt
former Watford and
Rickmansworth Railway
Vicarage Road
Watford West
Croxley Green
Watford Metropolitan Line
River Gade
Grand Junction Canal
planned road bridge
Croxley Metropolitan Line
Met & Chiltern lines
Metropolitan line
Up to London
Network Rail
new line

The Croxley Rail Link is a railway engineering project in the Watford and Three Rivers districts of Hertfordshire, England. The result will connect the two urban lines serving Watford, the London Overground and the London Underground Metropolitan line, at Watford Junction, improving interchange between lines. The Metropolitan line Watford tube terminal station will close, and the line will be diverted and extended from Croxley tube station to Watford Junction via a reopened section of closed line. Two new stations will be built on the reopened line. The main proponent of the scheme is Hertfordshire County Council, with the support of Transport for London (TfL) which owns the Watford branch.[4][5][6]

The engineering works consist of the reuse of the alignment of the disused Watford and Rickmansworth Railway between Croxley Green and Watford High Street. On this alignment the two new stations will be built with the construction of a viaduct over the Grand Union Canal, River Gade and A412 road. The new line will leave Croxley Green station and branch into the London Overground line before Watford High Street stations before continuing to Watford Junction.[7]

The proposed route was featured in a Transport for London network map for 2016[8] and the Transport for London Indicative 2025 Transport Map on which Watford tube station does not appear.[9] When the link is built, direct services between Watford Junction and Amersham would also be possible,[4] but these are not included in the business case for the scheme.

The project was approved by the Government on 14 December 2011.[10] Work began with clearing vegetation in 2013, although it has not been announced when construction may begin.[2][11][12] The project received final Government approval through an Order of the Transport and Works Act on 24 July 2013.[13]

The Croxley Link was signed off and formally given the green light by the government on 17 March 2015, when it was confirmed that Transport for London would be responsible for it. It has been suggested that the first trains may run in 2020.[2][14]


Diagram of 1927 proposals extending the Met line into Watford (never constructed)
The former British Rail Croxley Green branch prior to its closure (pictured: Watford West station 1985)

The present-day London Underground Watford station is situated close to Cassiobury Park, somewhat peripheral to Watford town centre. The Metropolitan Railway had originally intended to extend the branch into central Watford via a tunnel under Cassiobury Park to a terminus on the High Street. Watford station was constructed at a low level to allow for the construction of a cut-and-cover tunnel across the park, and in 1927 the MR purchased 44 High Street, opposite Clarendon Road, with the intention of converting it into the booking hall of Watford Central tube station. Watford Urban District Council, who had bought parts of the Cassiobury Estate from the Earl of Essex to create Cassiobury Park, objected to the proposal to drive a railway across the park. The project was cancelled and the terminus of the Watford branch remained on the southern side of the park, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) from the town centre[15] and 44 Watford High Street is now The Moon Under Water public house.[16]

Another railway in the Watford area was the single-track Watford and Rickmansworth Railway (WRR), a branch of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) which opened in 1862 between Watford Junction and Rickmansworth (Church Street). In 1912 the LNWR opened a second branch to Croxley Green and although part of the route ran close to the Metropolitan line (about 200 metres), the lines were not linked. The LNWR line came under the ownership of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) in 1923 and British Rail in 1948. Throughout this time, passenger numbers were low and the former WRR lines were run down; British Rail withdrew passenger services from the Rickmansworth branch in 1952 and ran a skeleton service on the Croxley Green branch until 1996, when both branches were closed.[17]

The London Transport Executive (LTE), part of the British Transport Commission, considered options for the Metropolitan line in 1948, and proposed linking the Metropolitan to the BR Croxley Green branch line.[18] A similar proposal was put forward by London Regional Transport (LRT) around 1994; an adapted version of the tube map for internal planning purposes printed that year shows a projected route via Watford West and Watford High Street to Watford Junction.[19] Because the line lay entirely within Hertfordshire, it was championed by the county council who lobbied for funding from LRT (later TfL) and the Department for Transport for 16 years.[20]


In 2005 Transport for London (TfL) tentatively committed to providing up to £18m of the estimated cost of £65m, predicting that the link would be operational by 2010.[2][21] Difficulties arose in securing the remaining funding from the Department for Transport (DfT) and a revised project submission, under new guidelines, was prepared, with a view to obtaining Programme Entry status. A business case was submitted to the DfT in February 2008, with revised costs of £95m.[22] The proposal was rejected in March on the basis that no guarantee of financial backing had been received from TfL.[23]

In July 2008 the East of England Regional Assembly declared the scheme a "priority" and agreed to contribute £119.5m[24] towards the estimated cost, now £150m.[25] Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) agreed to allocate £25.8m which it hoped to recover through ticket sales and other London Underground revenue.[26] It was predicted that the link could be operational within seven years.[24]

A revised business case was produced in autumn 2009 and the costs and scope reviewed. Following the coalition's Comprehensive Spending Review the project was placed in the pre-qualification pool and a further submission made to the Department for Transport in January 2011. In February 2011 the Department for Transport placed the project into a qualification pool of works that would be subjected to further assessments in order to bid for funding. A Best and Final Funding Bid was submitted to the Department in September 2011.[27] On 14 December 2011, the Department for Transport agreed to fund £76.2m of the £115.9m cost,[28] with the remainder from the local authorities (£33.7m) and third parties (£6.86m).[11]

In December 2014 Hertfordshire County Council announced that the projected cost of the scheme would rise to £230 million. It was also reported that London Underground could take over construction of the link from Network Rail.[29] According to TfL, HCC had significantly underestimated the costs and the project was faced with "significant project slippage and cost escalation", and for this reason an agreement was reached with the DfT and HCC whereby London Underground would assume full responsibility for the project, subject to a suitable funding package. Hertfordshire County Council will now contribute £230m, £34m will be provided by central government, and LU is to contribute £16m. The opening date was put back to 2020.[2][14]

Route and proposed services

A diagram of the proposed rail services
Map of the Croxley Rail Link. The proposed Ascot Road station was renamed Cassiobridge in Aug 2013.

A key part of the Croxley Rail Link project will be the construction of the "missing link", a short line of track connecting the existing Metropolitan line to the former British Rail Croxley Green branch line at their closest point. This will involve installing a new junction near Baldwins Lane, about 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) north-east of Croxley station, and building a new viaduct and bridge to carry the Metropolitan line over the A412 Watford Road dual carriageway and the Grand Union Canal[30] to the former BR line. Double track will be laid along the disused trackbed, reinstating the line as far as Watford High Street; from this point, underground trains will share track with London Overground trains along the Watford DC Line to the Watford Junction terminus.[31]


None of the former BR stations that closed in 1996 will reopen. Two new stations will be built: Croxley Green station will be replaced by Cassiobridge[32] (previously intended to be called "Ascot Road") and a second station, Watford Vicarage Road, will be built to replace Watford West and the football specials halt, Watford Stadium.[32][33] The stations will have Underground facilities with the exception of a staffed ticket office; ticket machines are to be available instead.[34][35]

Watford Friends of the Earth commented on the siting of the stations:

"The Croxley Rail Link has a valuable role to play in access to the football ground and hospital. A new station on the Croxley Rail Link to serve the football ground and hospital is a better option than refurbishing the station on Tolpits Lane, which is currently the preferred choice of Watford Council's consultants."[36]

Summary of stations on the route:

Station Status notes
Watford Junction London Overground National Rail existing
Watford High Street London Overground existing
Watford Stadium remaining closed Area to be served by Watford Vicarage Road
Watford Vicarage Road new station
Watford West remaining closed Area to be served by Watford Vicarage Road
Cassiobridge new station
Croxley Green remaining closed Area to be served by Cassiobridge
Croxley London Underground existing

The name Ascot Road was initially chosen by consultants for the first of the two new stations; however, many local people and councillors felt that this name would not reflect the identity of the area. Transport planners also expressed concern that the new Tube station may be too easily confused with Ascot Station in Berkshire. The name Cassiobridge was suggested due to historical connections with the area and because of a bridge over the Grand Union Canal, and after some consultation, it was confirmed in August 2013 that the Cassiobridge name would be used instead.[32][37]

Similarly, the planned Watford Hospital station has had its name changed to Watford Vicarage Road, as it was felt that the association with Vicarage Road football stadium would ensure wider recognition outside the local area.[32][33][37]

Closure of Watford tube station

Transport for London have stated that passenger services on the Metropolitan line from Croxley to Watford will cease when the Croxley Rail Link opens in 2020; Watford Met station will close, although the short branch may remain in operation as a reversing siding. Following closure, the nearest station to Watford Met will be Cassiobridge, about 1.3 kilometres (0.8 mi) away. The plan to close the station has been the subject of some local opposition, and campaigners have argued for a reduced shuttle service to be operated on the branch.[38]

Ending services on part of the line and closing a station require a formal closure process involving London TravelWatch.[7] The London TravelWatch Board set up a Watford Station Closure Panel. The panel held a public meeting in Watford on 14 June 2012 to present arguments to TfL against the station closure.[39][40]

Amersham link

A further proposal is to use the existing but seldom-used Metropolitan line chord which allows trains to run from Watford towards Amersham via Rickmansworth. In conjunction with the Croxley Rail Link, this route would allow direct services between Watford Junction and Amersham, thus improving local public transport in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire.[4][41]

The proposal was included in a Greengauge 21 report 'Capturing the Benefits of HS2 on Existing Lines'. The report proposes that High Speed Two would increase capacity on the West Coast Mainline, increasing the benefits of an "Amersham Link" to the Croxley Link. These benefits would be further increased by the planned substantial increase in service to Watford Junction and London Euston. It is claimed that this could support a new service from Aylesbury and other London to Aylesbury Line destinations to Watford Junction."[42]

The Amersham link featured in London Regional Transport's adapted internal planning Tube map of 1994, which first illustrated the projected route.[19]

Watford Health Campus

The proposed route runs close to a major new development at Watford General Hospital which will include a hotel and retail, business and residential developments. Promoters of this development believe that the new rail link will increase the need for public transport and will provide potential custom for new services, and the Health Campus project expresses support for the project on its website.[43]



  1. ^ "Croxley Rail Link update". 17 December 2014. Archived from the original on 9 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Knowles, Michael (30 July 2015). "Croxley Rail Link will not be completed until 2020, documents reveal". Watford Observer. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Metropolitan line extension". Transport for London. Retrieved 2016-05-30. 
  4. ^ a b c Wood, John (March 2006). "Hertfordshire's Local Transport Plan 2006/07 – 2010/1" (PDF). Hertfordshire County Council. p. 22. 
  5. ^ "West Watford Transport Plan" (PDF). Hertfordshire County Council. 2001. p. 46.  see section 6.3.6
  6. ^ "Croxley Rail Link". Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2008-12-02. 
  7. ^ a b "Station Closure Process". Croxley Rail Link. 2012-02-23. Archived from the original on 2012-03-23. 
  8. ^ "A Proposed London Transport Map for 2016 featuring the Croxley Rail Link" (PDF). The Guardian. 2004-07-05. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2004-09-21. 
  9. ^ "A Transport for London 2025 Indicative Transport Map showing the Croxley Rail Link". 2007-06-01. Archived from the original on 2013-08-06. 
  10. ^ Binnie, Adam; Wright, Mike (2011-12-13). "Croxley Rail Link plan approved by Government". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-08-05. 
  11. ^ a b "Best and final funding bid: Croxley Rail Link" (PDF). Croxley Rail Link. September 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-03-26. 
  12. ^ "Watford Metropolitan line Tube extension gets go-ahead". BBC News. 2013-07-24. Archived from the original on 2013-07-26. 
  13. ^ a b "London Underground takes over Croxley Rail Link project". Railway Gazette. 27 Mar 2015. Archived from the original on 6 April 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  14. ^ Horne, Mike (2003). The Metropolitan Line: an Illustrated History. Capital Transport Publishing. pp. 39–40. ISBN 1-85414-275-5. 
  15. ^ Wolmar, Christian (2009). The Subterranean Railway How the London Underground Was Built and How it Changed the City Forever. London: Atlantic Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84887-253-0. 
  16. ^ "Watford to Croxley Green". West Watford History Group. Archived from the original on 2013-08-07. 
  17. ^ Horne, p.96
  18. ^ a b Garland, Ken (1994-12-05). Mr Beck's Underground Map. Harrow Weald: Capital Transport Publishing. p. 63. ISBN 1-85414-168-6. OCLC 32915967. 
  19. ^ "Scheme Development Report" (PDF). Steer Davies Gleave. September 2011. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-08-07. 
  20. ^ "Croxley Rail Link project on track". Transport for London. 2005-02-10. Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. 
  21. ^ "Rail link a step closer". Watford Observer. 2008-02-02. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. 
  22. ^ "Croxley Rail Link hits the Sidings". Watford Observer. 2008-03-29. Archived from the original on 2011-01-21. 
  23. ^ a b "Watford Tube link gets the go-ahead". Construction News. 2008-07-21. Archived from the original on 2010-08-25. 
  24. ^ "Rail link cost spirals". Watford Observer. 2008-07-10. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. 
  25. ^ "Rail link plans get support". Watford Observer. 2008-08-09. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. 
  26. ^ Pickard, Michael (2011-02-08). "Croxley Rail Link fight 'far from over'". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2012-03-23. 
  27. ^ "Local Authority Majors, Development Pool Schemes, Scheme Decisions" (PDF). Department for Transport. 2011-12-14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-25. 
  28. ^ Knowles, Michael (17 December 2014). "Croxley Rail Link: London Underground could take over construction of £230m project". Watford Observer. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  29. ^ "Web Brochure" (PDF). Croxley Rail Link. 2011-06-02. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-03-23. 
  30. ^ "Map of the Croxley Rail Link". Transport for London. Archived from the original on 2011-05-28. 
  31. ^ a b c d Wright, Mike (2013-06-07). "Names in the frame for new Croxley Rail Link stations in Watford". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-06-07. 
  32. ^ a b "Vicarage Road approved by Transport for London for Croxley Rail Link's West Watford station name". Watford Observer. 2013-08-08. Archived from the original on 2013-08-09. 
  33. ^ "DfT Expression of Interest - Submission for Funding" (PDF). Department for Transport. 2011-02-09. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-06-01. 
  34. ^ "Watford West station design" (PDF). Transport for London. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2007-09-30. 
  35. ^ "The future for Watford's hospital?". Watford Friends of the Earth. Archived from the original on 2007-10-24. 
  36. ^ a b Wright, Mike (2013-07-22). "Croxley Rail Link: Politicians lobby TFL over West Watford station name". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-08-05. 
  37. ^ Wright, Mike (2013-08-21). "Watford Met Station campaigners: 'There is no reason for it to close'". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2013-09-01. 
  38. ^ "Watford Station Closure Panel". London Travel Watch. Archived from the original on 2013-08-05. 
  39. ^ Wright, Mike (2012-06-15). "Transport bosses hear arguments to keep Watford Met station open". Watford Observer. Archived from the original on 2012-06-18. 
  40. ^ "Chiltern Railways". Rail Saver. Archived from the original on 2008-02-08. If the Croxley Rail link gets the go ahead from TfL and Hertfordshire County Council, direct services into Watford Junction from Amersham will be likely ... 
  41. ^ "Capturing the benefits of HS2 on existing lines" (PDF). Greengauge21. 2011-02-17. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-03-13. 
  42. ^ "Transport Improvements". Watford Health Campus website. Archived from the original on 2009-12-16. 

External links

Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata

  • "Croxley Rail Link Public Consultation website". Croxley Rail Link. 
  • "Metropolitan line extension". Transport for London. Retrieved 2016-05-30. 
  • "Croxley Link". Always Touch Out. 2006-08-29. 
  • Carto.Metro map of the Croxley Rail Link
  • "Disused Stations: Croxley Green". Subterranea Britannica. 2004-11-05.  - photos of the disused line
  • "London's Abandoned Stations - Croxley Green branch". Abandoned Stations. 
  • "An insight into the history of the branch line and its demise as well as photographs of the derelict line today". Underground History. 
  • "A Blog Containing December 2016 details on the progress of the Line". London Reconnections. 
  • "3D flythrough video of the Croxley Rail Link". Retrieved 14 January 2015. 
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