Fresh Air on the Metropolitan Line (a moving tale)

Even the TWA inspector admitted there would be a lot of fresh air moving around at the Watford end of the Metropolitan Line if the Croxley Rail Link is built as currently planned.

Empty carriages at the northern end of the Met Line

Empty carriages at the northern end of the Met Line

Ordinarily it doesn’t matter too much if rolling stock trundles around mostly empty at the end of a long suburban railway line.  After all, the stock which the operator already has was sized to the projected demand over the busiest part of the route and the station infrastructure (platforms, lighting etc.) will be there for them.

However when what is already a long railway is being extended, such as in the case of the Croxley Rail Link, not only do trains longer than needed use more energy, create more emissions and cost more to maintain than necessary.  It also costs more than necessary to buy them and they need longer platforms than necessary to be built for them.  No wonder the CRL will cost £118m of taxpayers money even if it stays within budget.  Is any of this extra cost and inefficiency avoidable?  Sounds like it may be…

…If you read around some of the popular web forums of railway engineers and enthusiasts, you find some of these people have some very good ideas.  One that we like the sound of involves operating the entire Watford [& proposed Watford Junction end of the Met Line as two 4-car shuttles using the [shorter and cheaper] S4 variant of the new S-stock trains.

As has been suggested in some of these forums, 8-car S8s to/from Northwood and stations to the south would roll into and out of Platforms 3 & 4 at Moor Park .  Passengers would be able to change trains (without needing to change platform, unless switching to/from a fast train from Platform 2).  4-car shuttles would then run alternately to Watford Junction and Watford Met.  This would also obviate the need to turn trains round at Rickmansworth and Watford Jct and reduce the risk of the impact of any delays further down the line and the scheme’s capital costs would be much reduced, it is claimed.

There are no doubt dozens of variants (one reader for example has suggested running the shuttle from the existing siding at Northwood). No doubt some will challenge the feasibility of this scheme and that’s fine but we’re concerned that no such variants were considered or tested either by LUL when promoting the scheme or the TWA inspector when considering it.  As a result, may existing Watford Met users have been left feeling disenfranchised by the proposed closure of their station and feel hugely let down.

They are also concerned that the inspector was repeatedly told by the scheme promoters that told Watford Met is ‘underused’ and is the 25th least used station on the network but it does not seem to have been relevant to the inquiry that its 1.5 million entry/exits in 2009 were twice as many as Croxley (which would remain open) in the corresponding year!

This campaign has written to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, asking for an urgent and independent inquiry into viable options for keeping Watford Met open while still building the Croxley Rail Link.

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