What alternatives are there for a shuttle continuing to serve Watford Met?

In its final report London Travelwatch’s clusure panel recommended that “a trial split service is trialled, serving both Watford and Watford Junction Stations, prior to a final decision on the closure of Watford station.”

But how might that work?  At the public meeting held in June a proposal was put forward by one group of objectors for a shuttle service between Croxley and Watford stations.  However LUL pointed out that one of the main obstacles to this is the need for an additional platform and points at Croxley which could require the acquisition of more land, possibly taking a strip of the edge of the existing car park.

But this feels like a patch solution whose viability could be called into question in the future by LUL.  Could there however be other options for integrating this shuttle idea into the wider operation of the Metropolitan Line.  For those who don’t know the Met Line is unique in it’s operation of a twin-track (literally) service over much of it’s route from Wembley Park to Watford – a stopping service and a ‘fast’ service.  As a result there are 4 platforms at Moor Park and 6 at Harrow-on-the-Hill.  Wouldn’t one of these be a more logical choice as the starting point for a Watford/Watford Jct shuttle service?  This would also potentially offer Watford Jct Met Line travellers the opportunity to short-circuit what would otherwise be a seemingly interminable 15-stop, 55 minute grind to Baker St.Met Line Tracks

I profess no technical railway engineering skills but have sketched out below, from a traveller’s perspective, what seem like some sensible alternatives.  All of these are bound to cost more than not providing the service so be ready for LUL to bleat unviability but aren’t these the sorts of ideas that are worthy of consideration to alleviate the hardship identified by London Travelwatch to existing Watford Met users?

Change at Moor Park

a)        All north & southbound services stop at Moor Park (platforms 1 & 2) en route to Amersham/Chesham

Passengers cross to platforms 3 & 4 (as many do currently) for alternate 3tph shuttles to Watford Met (renamed Cassiobury Park?) and Watford Jct.

b)        Fast north & southbound services stop at Moor Park (platforms 1 & 2) en route to Amersham/Chesham

Passengers cross to platform 4 for alternate 3tph shuttles to Watford Met (renamed Cassiobury Park?) and Watford Jct.

Platform 3 used as terminus for southbound stopping trains in morning rush and northbound stopping trains in evening rush and all [stopping] trains during off-peak times.

In each case above the installation of disabled access lifts between platform and subway would be advantageous.

Change at Harrow-on-the-Hill

a)        All north & southbound services stop at Harrow-on-the-Hill

Passengers cross to platforms 5 & 6 (as many do currently) for alternate 4tph shuttles to Watford Met (renamed Cassiobury Park?) and Watford Jct (all using platforms 3 & 4 at Moor Park)

In each case above the installation of disabled access lifts between platform and subway/footbridge would be advantageous.

What do people think?

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12 Responses to What alternatives are there for a shuttle continuing to serve Watford Met?

  1. TRT says:

    There is an issue here with the current service effectively carting fresh air around at the extremes of the route. My calculations based on LUL figures show the peak-time S8s from WJ will be at 25-33% seated occupancy until they reach Moor Park. This is a ridiculous state of affairs. Although I voted for a Moor Park option (option a wouldn’t work because of the Chiltern service sharing the fast lines at platforms 1 and 2 Moor Park, although many MoorParkians would like to see that Chiltern service reinstated!) that is because I believe that there is space at Moor Park to install two head shunts, one North, one South, to reverse the bulk of the trunk services that they are proposing to reverse at Rickmansworth (a wholly ridiculous idea if you look at the layout of the tracks there – the 4 tracks drop to 2 tracks between Moor Park and Rickmansworth, creating contention between the North bound reversers and the South bound services), and one on the South side to reverse a 4 car Watford Shuttle service. Running a 4-car service along the CRL would mean that much less infrastructure would initially be required for the new stations (platforms, canopies, lighting etc), the savings plus initial amount for 1xS8 already awarded could buy two new 4 car S8s and convert one 8 car S8 to three 4 cars. This would enable a turn up and go service for both the Junction and the Met stations.

  2. TRT says:

    Of course, a short shuttle service to Moor Park could allow them to test the NOp, driverless, capability of the new S-class trains. They want to trial it ASAP, if I read the press releases correctly. Roll that in with the CRL. If they bring in the new signalling for NOp in 2020 as currently mooted, then they’d anyway have to rip out the traditional stuff laid on the CRL just 4 years before.

  3. Ambercycle says:

    It would be helpful if people who voted “other” could please leave comments as to what their ideas are?

    • Tony says:

      Why not run Watford shuttles through to Croxley. There’s the infrastructure available now at no cost and two train paths and hour.

  4. Ambercycle says:

    Am not sure the infrastructure is there unless the shuttle ran Watford > Rickmansworth along the existing ‘north curve’ where people could change for fast trains to/from London and Chesham/Amersham.

  5. Ric says:

    I voted ‘other’. The alternative is not a mere shuttle but to establish the Colne Valley Transit idea, and run the Chesham branch to and from WJ. When these trains run, the main service is diverted to Watford Met. Simple!

  6. Si says:

    I voted other as there was no “none” option.

    The hardship of having to deal with a 20-minutely/half-hourly shuttle is worse than walking/cycling/taxiing to Cassio Bridge and Vicarage Road and picking up a ten-minutely service (see the number of Chesham people who used Amersham* off peak, and the almost non-existent ridership of the Chesham shuttle for more details). Google’s directions show a maximum of a 20-minute walk to the new stations from anywhere south of the park (and most of West Watford will have shorter walks than to Watford Met). And if you are doing a 20-minute walk across the park, then (while less pleasant) you’d almost certainly find it just as quick to walk to Watford Junction as it was to Watford Met.

    Ric, your solution is basically the worst thing possible for everyone who doesn’t live very close to Watford Met – you’ve killed the usefulness of the Croxley link, making it pointless to build (frequent service between Northwood, Pinner, etc and Central Watford, better service for West Watford) and you’ve forced Chesham commuters to the choice of a change-to-half-hourly-service or do-a-thirty-minute-plus-peak-hour-drive-to-Amersham – a far worse fate for more people than who would be adversely inconvenienced by the closure of Watford Met.

    *much further away from Chesham than Ascot Road or West Watford is from Watford Met.

    • Ambercycle says:

      Grateful for your comment “The hardship of having to deal with a 20-minutely/half-hourly shuttle is worse than walking/cycling/taxiing to Cassio Bridge and Vicarage Road and picking up a ten-minutely service…” but don’t agree. Do you live in Watford? Plenty of people walk to Watford High Street each day for a 20 min service. Interestingly about 50% (by observation only) take the train one stop north to Watford Jct and change for faster London Midland services to Euston rather than endure the 55 min southbound trip on the Overground. I predict that many users of the 2 new stations proposed on the CRL will do likewise!

      • trt1968 says:

        There is the question of lost revenue for the TOCs if people do this, of course. Tap in at a zone 8 station e.g. Cassiobridge, go North to WJ, cross to the LM service which should be the special, higher WJ fare, tap out at zone 1 Euston. Mind you, it’s exactly the same problem as they face with, say High Street, Bushey or Carpender’s Park at the moment, but the 3tph service makes it slightly less attractive to try this dodge.
        I expect they’ll have to put in a new gate-line at WJ to cope with this at some point in the future.

  7. David says:

    Has a shuttle Watford Met to Northwood been considered? I think there is a existing siding at Northwood which would remove the Watford Met shuttle from the main track whilst it prepared to return to Watford Met. This could resolve the objection of the shuttle to Croxley (having to put in another platform/siding), have minimal impact on other operations, require minimal additional engineering, and provide the link to fast trains at Moor Park.

    • Ambercycle says:

      Not sure it has – pretty much the only shuttle considered by LUL and the TWA Inspector was a shuttle to/from Croxley and this was assessed on the basis it would require it’s own platform (rather than be interleaved with north &southbound CRL trains – after all there will only be 6 tph). This is why we’ve asked mayor Boris Johnson to appoint an independent consultant to properly consider all the options. Please write to him: mayor@london.gov.uk (you have to give a postal address) to ask why your idea was not considered.

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