…or not as the case may be. Two weeks ago, with just 4 weeks till it ends, a solitary poster has at last discreetly emerged in Watford Met Line station promoting the public consultation about its possible closure due to the Croxley Rail Link to the passengers who made 1.5 million journeys from/to the station in 2009. 1,100 have now signed the petition against it’s closure.
No doubt London Underground and Watford Council will be telling the Secretary of State for Transport that they’ve consulted widely on the proposals and that there is healthy support for the project.
Poppycock! They have done everything they can to avert too much over-dramatisation of the fact that thousands of local families and hundreds of school students would lose their local station as a consequence. I always thought that was the point of a consultation?
So who has been consulted? Well for starters, anyone who happened to be passing by the glitzy exhibition in the Harlequin centre for 3 days in May and anyone who has taken the trouble to complete a heavily skewed questionnaire (see earlier posts). Then there will be those duped into the belief that the proposed Health Campus will be the panacea to all West Watford’s ills (no pun intended) and, if it is to stand a chance of success, will rely on the Link. However, so far West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust has failed to put any money where Watford Borough Council’s mouth is to fund a new hospital and the remaining scheme amounts to a development of 130 flats at the end of Cardiff Road (what do you think of that, local residents – anyone keen for more traffic congestion on Wiggenhall Rd?) and an 8,000 sq.m R&D facility (without an idea who would occupy it, and for what). In retrurn for this ‘veritable treasure trove’ (not) the would-be development partner will have to commit to build a new £10m link road in from Dalton Way (behind B&Q), crossing Wiggenhall Rd. “Ambitious” doesn’t come close to describing this madness – “unreal” is (literally) much nearer the mark! So how compelling a case is this for the CRL?
Many have in any event already commented that the proposed new Vicarage Rd CRL station would be too far a walk from the hospital for the elderly and disabled. Other supporters tend to be local politicians and rail enthusiasts – and of course the construction managers and consultants salivating at the thought of the £120m+ that will be spent on the scheme (even if built to budget). There will be those living locally for whom the new stations will be more convenient, but since the popularity of these stations does not seem to match the existing Watford Met – see survey results.