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Watford Junction Redevlopment

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mr_jrt

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Apologies if this has a thread elsewhere, but I couldn't find one.

Once again plans are afoot to redevelop Watford Junction, which in the usual form, means little to no improvement to the railway and building lots of very profitable buildings on former railway land.

My main response for concern was that the development basically seems to be a land grab that makes no provision for the railway to expand in the future. The most obvious easy win would be to rebuild platform 10 as a through platform so that platform 9 could be used as a non-conflicting 12-car termination platform from either direction as required. This obviously has an impact as having new blocks built up to the current up slow means there's no room for the track!

Medium-term, widening the platforms would be helpful as they can get dangerously congested in the peaks, especially if services are disrupted.

...and finally, longer-term, the construction of an additional island platform alongside the 9 & 10 island would enable the slow lines to have 4 platforms (and the fast lines 3), permitting longer dwell times, high frequency central turnbacks, and overtaking.

The plan also appears to resurrect the futile plan to convert the Abbey Line to light rail, which can be seen on the plan as basically being a road, with the roads in the new development aligned for at-grade standard crossroads where they meet the line.

Feel free to comment away to the council.
https://watford.jdi-consult.net/localplan/readdoc.php?from=webrep&docid=20&docelemid=d494#d494
 
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MarkyT

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Apologies if this has a thread elsewhere, but I couldn't find one.

Once again plans are afoot to redevelop Watford Junction, which in the usual form, means little to no improvement to the railway and building lots of very profitable buildings on former railway land.

My main response for concern was that the development basically seems to be a land grab that makes no provision for the railway to expand in the future. The most obvious easy win would be to rebuild platform 10 as a through platform so that platform 9 could be used as a non-conflicting 12-car termination platform from either direction as required. This obviously has an impact as having new blocks built up to the current up slow means there's no room for the track!

Medium-term, widening the platforms would be helpful as they can get dangerously congested in the peaks, especially if services are disrupted.

...and finally, longer-term, the construction of an additional island platform alongside the 9 & 10 island would enable the slow lines to have 4 platforms (and the fast lines 3), permitting longer dwell times, high frequency central turnbacks, and overtaking.

The plan also appears to resurrect the futile plan to convert the Abbey Line to light rail, which can be seen on the plan as basically being a road, with the roads in the new development aligned for at-grade standard crossroads where they meet the line.

I agree there really must be some extra space safegaurded for future station expansion, room for an additional island platform parallel to the main line at least. The document already achnowledges the 'station facilities' are at about maximum capacity already. Beware the technophiles who will claim that the miracle of ETCS will magically unlock more capacity from the existing station and the developers who'll latch on to this idea to box the railway in to the minimum space possible. To be clear ETCS, with many benefits I acknowledge, cannot make trains magically share the same physical space simultaneously nor allow then to pass through each other, so the fundemental constraints of platform standage and reoccupation time remain at the busiest stations. The density of development proposed at Watford, and the desire to tie the area better into the broader town centre cannot fail to increase rail demand significantly. That's a good thing to support better and more frequent services for existing and new customers, but it MUST be recognised that it will inevitably drive a requirement for more platform capacity to accommodate the increased traffic.

I don't see light rail conversion of the St Albans branch as 'futile'. On the contrary I think it would be desirable if it can be justified and a realsitic method of funding, building and operating it could be found. A 'tram-train' extension under the main line then over NR / LU metals via Watford High St to Rickmansworth could provide a useful cross town route, and at St Albans an extension to the City station might be possible. Note I would not advocate any significant shared street running with road traffic on such a local railway, but segments in reservation through pedestrian zones, as implied here, would be ok. The point of going for LR would be to allow the continued and expanded use of level crossings where neccessary, and to exploit the sharper curvature and steeper gradient capabilities for the short extensions. By allowing level crossings, particularly for pedestrians, provision of additional passing loops and access to platforms at stops is simplified, and the stops can be better integrated into local communities with access from either side of the railway possible economically. The 'barrier' effect of a railway corridor is also reduced with the greater permeability.
http://www.townend.me/files/stalbans.pdf
 
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ChiefPlanner

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Reminds me very much of the plans for the Cricklewood / Brent Cross area - which has equal effects on rail facilities.

The whole area is a total mess - the station is difficult to get to by road with traffic choked roads (peak especially) and road trips can take anything from 25 mins to 45 mins from the M1 area.

The station forecourt is a disgrace - with a miserable bus station (which is not even cleaned properly - real basic stuff) and the road access via the grim and dangerous cab rank (if you can call it that) is very poor - the pedestrian route via the tunnel is dreadful. The station has no platform canopies and some of the most uninviting and bleak waiting area you can think of - tiled walls and metal seats. The subway is crowded and a major constraint to passenger flows.

Maybe this could be the spur to something very desirable to improve the land usage - but must be done in the context of improving and safeguarding rail facilities - the Abbey line by the way has a whopping 37% of unpaid journeys .....
 

The Planner

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The issues with Watford are the platform widths and the subway. Dream on with any infrastruture plans, you wont get any extra platforms etc with HS2 taking fast traffic away.
 

ChiefPlanner

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The issues with Watford are the platform widths and the subway. Dream on with any infrastruture plans, you wont get any extra platforms etc with HS2 taking fast traffic away.

Agreed - but it does need some improvements to what we discussed ...(after all - the recent resignalling is still not fully functional I understand..)
 

DynamicSpirit

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The issues with Watford are the platform widths and the subway. Dream on with any infrastruture plans, you wont get any extra platforms etc with HS2 taking fast traffic away.

HS2 will remove a lot of trains that don't stop at Watford. I would imagine it's very safe to guess that these will be immediately replaced with a bunch of new services that will stop at Watford Junction, resulting in roughly the same number of trains passing through and a much busier station (because many more of those trains will stop). It's hard to imagine that this won't put more pressure on the station, resulting in the need for more passenger capacity to be built in, though I don't know whether or not that would imply extra platforms would be needed.

Incidentally, a side-effect of this is likely to be that the Abbey line becomes busier - because it then provides much better connections at WFJ to destinations along the West Coast main line, thereby attracting more passengers. Again, that's likely to put pressure on facilities at WFJ - although it would take someone with more knowledge than me to say whether that would result in land around the station needing to be used.
 

matt_world2004

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Wouldnt the bus station be suitable for future expansion if needed. Its quite big and when I was there, there seemed to be an excess of capacity. in bus services using it.
 

mr_jrt

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Thanks all for the comments.

The bus station is only useful if you want more terminal platforms on the west side. They cannot provide more platforms heading north as there are built up areas on the other side. I think that 4 platforms would suffice given that LO manage with one at Euston, so 2-3 for the Met service increases should be more than adequate.

In an earlier proposal of mine I advocated restoring the disused platform 5 to a full through platform for a down fast loop, but I have been informed by Richard Harrington MP that Iveco House has just been refurbished and is not scheduled for redevelopment as I had previously erroneously thought to be the case. I've also been informed by sources (here?) that the length of the loop required to permit a platform loop to release maximum capacity would probably require the large bridges near Bushey station to be widened, so I suspect that's well out.

HS2 is the big driver for me for exactly the reasoning expressed above - Watford is a large town and more services should stop, but can't due to the need to serve Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, etc. All of those services will primarily be routed over HS2 once it opens, and the fast lines will be available for regional services that will serve the major population centres en-route to Birmingham, i.e. Watford.

As for the Abbey Line, I still don't see tram-train as beneficial - the need for a dedicated depot, discrete rolling stock and all the other costs makes the cost of the minimal project of a heavy-rail passing loop (or two) pale into comparison.

There's all sorts that could be done with the will and the means at the St Albans end, but regardless of those a heavy rail link to the proposed Radlett freight depot via the long-gone contractors branch would strike me as quite beneficial, even if it would require a reversal at Watford Junction to head north. At the Watford end, the money will probably never be found but a diveunder should be feasible if the railway begun descending immediately past Orphanage Road bridge, then passed under the main lines and rise up using the site of the former sidings to the south of the station and connect to the DC lines route to Watford High Street to create a single LO route. Possibly requires a sliver of land from the BT car park, but nothing outrageous.

But moving back to the point at hand, the land required for the additional platforms and lines is such a small slice of the development it seems crazy not to provide for it, even if just as surface car parking or green space until such time as it is required. By way of illustration I amended one of the diagrams in the document:
Watford%20Junction%20Plan%201.png


I'm obviously not an engineer and that's obviously not a proper engineering-quality diagram, but you get the point, hopefully!

The other interesting thing here is that the Abbey Line was routed away from it's original curve (seen in the diagram above as the left edges of blocks 14 and 15) to the present one to enlarge the par parking space available without needing to cross the branch. If the whole area is to be redeveloped, why not put it back where it was (into the original platform 11!), and free up the current alignment for larger blocks, given the former alignment appears to just be a road in the diagram. It will improve the distances for interchange markedly.
 
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Greeby

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Reminds me very much of the plans for the Cricklewood / Brent Cross area - which has equal effects on rail facilities.

The whole area is a total mess - the station is difficult to get to by road with traffic choked roads (peak especially) and road trips can take anything from 25 mins to 45 mins from the M1 area.

The station forecourt is a disgrace - with a miserable bus station (which is not even cleaned properly - real basic stuff) and the road access via the grim and dangerous cab rank (if you can call it that) is very poor - the pedestrian route via the tunnel is dreadful. The station has no platform canopies and some of the most uninviting and bleak waiting area you can think of - tiled walls and metal seats. The subway is crowded and a major constraint to passenger flows.

Maybe this could be the spur to something very desirable to improve the land usage - but must be done in the context of improving and safeguarding rail facilities - the Abbey line by the way has a whopping 37% of unpaid journeys .....

To be expected when the relevant TOC decimates their Revenue department. I said at the time that the line would go from the Paytrain to the Don't-Paytrain.
 

Trog

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At the Watford end, the money will probably never be found but a diveunder should be feasible if the railway begun descending immediately past Orphanage Road bridge, then passed under the main lines and rise up using the site of the former sidings to the south of the station and connect to the DC lines route to Watford High Street to create a single LO route. Possibly requires a sliver of land from the BT car park, but nothing outrageous.a road in the diagram.

The old tip sidings were opposite where you are intending your dive under to start. There are also two other under bridges in the affected area. There is no way on earth a dive under could be constructed, unless you made it so deep that it would need to run from half way to Watford North and come out most of the way down the bank to Watford High Street, missing Watford Junction entirely. It would be cheaper to close the branch and just send a taxi for each passenger. :roll:
 

Mikey C

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HS2 will remove a lot of trains that don't stop at Watford. I would imagine it's very safe to guess that these will be immediately replaced with a bunch of new services that will stop at Watford Junction, resulting in roughly the same number of trains passing through and a much busier station (because many more of those trains will stop). It's hard to imagine that this won't put more pressure on the station, resulting in the need for more passenger capacity to be built in, though I don't know whether or not that would imply extra platforms would be needed.

Incidentally, a side-effect of this is likely to be that the Abbey line becomes busier - because it then provides much better connections at WFJ to destinations along the West Coast main line, thereby attracting more passengers. Again, that's likely to put pressure on facilities at WFJ - although it would take someone with more knowledge than me to say whether that would result in land around the station needing to be used.

Even if these new replacement WCML services stop at Watford Junction, would that many more people actually use the station?

The number of commuters to London won't change radically, while the number of people who want to travel north from there won't increase that much either, when much faster services can be caught at Euston or Old Oak Common.
 

mr_jrt

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The old tip sidings were opposite where you are intending your dive under to start. There are also two other under bridges in the affected area. There is no way on earth a dive under could be constructed, unless you made it so deep that it would need to run from half way to Watford North and come out most of the way down the bank to Watford High Street, missing Watford Junction entirely. It would be cheaper to close the branch and just send a taxi for each passenger. :roll:

The focus of this thread was intended to be Watford Junction's redevelopment with the Abbey Line's development just an aside, but if I must...

I'm not sure what the relevance of the former tip sidings is?

Regardless, I always considered the closure of the Reeds Walk footpath as a given, meaning that you had the distance between Orphanage and Radlett Roads to work with, the main constraints being a) the gradients, and b) minimising the length of any bridge structures for the mainlines above.

Having run some numbers for the two roads and the mainlines remaining as-is, (assuming a 6m drop being required for standard clearances) I believe that the distance is unfortunately a bit too short for a diveunder with 1 in 30 gradients. There is however room for ramps with 1 in 29 gradients, which would be comparable to City Thameslink. Merseyrail has short sections of 1 in 26 mixed in with longer sections of 1 in 27, which would whilst making a diveunder here more viable, also handily eases the curvature required whilst minimising the bridge lengths. We're talking modern EMUs here, not steam, and Merseyrail's 508s can just about manage those inclines with half their motors disabled (apparently), so normal operation by modern LO 378s should be fine, IMHO. I'd be interested to find out the gradients on the incline between the former ELL south of the old Shoreditch tube station and bridge GE13 which they do manage fine.

It may seem to make more sense to build a passing loop or two and increase the frequency to demonstrably grow patronage first, but given that one of the biggest hurdles to investing in the line seems to be not the pointwork, loop and platform, but the leasing costs of the second (or third!) train(s), operating the line as an extension of the main LO route seems to be far more economical in the long-term as you could just project units from the LO line as the infrastructure slowly grew. The demand is there, it's just that the service is so bad as it stands people don't use the line - there is massive suppressed demand and you only have to look at the traffic on the parallel roads to see it. I personally know of several friends who need to commute to London and over the years have actively avoided purchasing homes along the line because of the service levels!

If you were to tunnel the line fully you would have to be at a depth of at least 6m below Orphanage Road, and whilst this wouldn't be too much of a problem at Watford Junction (you would just have lifts and steps down from the subway to the platform box rather than up), I'm not sure there's enough room for the incline to get from below Orphanage Road to rail level at Radlett Road, though I suspect there may be, and it would have much easier curvature. It would also remove the Abbey Line from the surface through the redevelopment, opening up more possibilities there. I'm not aware of any underground obstacles?

Anyway, them's my thoughts on the matter. :)
 

DynamicSpirit

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Even if these new replacement WCML services stop at Watford Junction, would that many more people actually use the station?

The number of commuters to London won't change radically, while the number of people who want to travel north from there won't increase that much either, when much faster services can be caught at Euston or Old Oak Common.

Experience in most places seems to be that when you improve frequencies or make journeys more convenient, more people tend to come in response.

I agree that the number of commuters to (central) London isn't likely to change significantly. However, if long-distance services to the North start stopping at Watford Junction - a very plausible scenario, then it would seem likely that some people who currently drive from Hertfordshire to places like Manchester would be tempted to get the train instead.

There may even be a marginal effect of a few people who currently drive Northwards being tempted by the faster HS2 journey times to get the train to London and connect with HS2 there instead - particularly if a link from the WCML to Old Oak Common gets built. In that latter scenario, you would then get people travelling from Watford to Heathrow by train.

And, not HS2-related - the Croxley Link, when completed will bring in more passengers, since it'll make it possible to commute by rail between Watford and various new destinations in NW London.

While I would guess that individually, each of those things would only have a small to moderate impact, it doesn't seem unreasonable to guess that adding them all together, they would cause a significant increase in passengers using Watford Junction - both as a destination and for interchange.

At any rate, the likely increase in train frequencies calling at Watford as a result of HS2 - added to new passengers connecting when the Croxley Link is completed - would appear to me to provide an additional argument in favour of leaving some land around the station free in case it's required for railway use in the future.
 
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aylesbury

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[/IBack in the 1970,s I used to travel to Manchester once a month and joined my train at Watford as MK was not there.Think that Virgin might say that a Watford stop could add to much time to schedules most trains already have to many stops in my view .Last stop MK then Crewe would reduce journey times to Scotland and why stop Warrington its like being on a local service ,do above through to Glasgow could be four hours ,maybe.
 

Mikey C

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Experience in most places seems to be that when you improve frequencies or make journeys more convenient, more people tend to come in response.

I agree that the number of commuters to (central) London isn't likely to change significantly. However, if long-distance services to the North start stopping at Watford Junction - a very plausible scenario, then it would seem likely that some people who currently drive from Hertfordshire to places like Manchester would be tempted to get the train instead.

There may even be a marginal effect of a few people who currently drive Northwards being tempted by the faster HS2 journey times to get the train to London and connect with HS2 there instead - particularly if a link from the WCML to Old Oak Common gets built. In that latter scenario, you would then get people travelling from Watford to Heathrow by train.

And, not HS2-related - the Croxley Link, when completed will bring in more passengers, since it'll make it possible to commute by rail between Watford and various new destinations in NW London.

While I would guess that individually, each of those things would only have a small to moderate impact, it doesn't seem unreasonable to guess that adding them all together, they would cause a significant increase in passengers using Watford Junction - both as a destination and for interchange.

At any rate, the likely increase in train frequencies calling at Watford as a result of HS2 - added to new passengers connecting when the Croxley Link is completed - would appear to me to provide an additional argument in favour of leaving some land around the station free in case it's required for railway use in the future.

Won't the Virgin type services be slower after HS2 is open, as they'll stop more frequently? Great for going to towns on the way, but meaning that services to Manchester say will actually be slower...

I'm not saying there won't be growth in train use, but from memory of working in the area previously, many people driving up north aren't going to city centres, so may still use the car anyway
 

Bletchleyite

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Won't the Virgin type services be slower after HS2 is open, as they'll stop more frequently? Great for going to towns on the way, but meaning that services to Manchester say will actually be slower...

WFJ no longer has any Manchester services (unless there's the odd evening one) so anything will be an improvement :)
 

mr_jrt

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Quite. Perhaps even the pick up/set down restrictions could be lifted - I'd imagine most passengers heading south would use fast line services and the slow lines could serve the intermediate stations (Bushey, Harrow, Wembley, Willesden/OOC) with a much higher frequency. That would go some way to alleviating the overcrowding. Heading north options were always limited unless you either doubled back on the slow lines via Euston or headed north on them to Milton Keynes, so gains would be good there too.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Reminder:

"Consultation ends: 03/10/2016 12:00 PM"
 

Class 170101

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[/IBack in the 1970,s I used to travel to Manchester once a month and joined my train at Watford as MK was not there.Think that Virgin might say that a Watford stop could add to much time to schedules most trains already have to many stops in my view .Last stop MK then Crewe would reduce journey times to Scotland and why stop Warrington its like being on a local service ,do above through to Glasgow could be four hours ,maybe.


The 16:30 Euston to Glasgow used to have a four hour 8 minute journey time. It called at Preston only. It wasn't well loaded and now calls at Wigan and Warrington, Penrith and Carlisle as well.
 

AM9

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Quite. Perhaps even the pick up/set down restrictions could be lifted - I'd imagine most passengers heading south would use fast line services and the slow lines could serve the intermediate stations (Bushey, Harrow, Wembley, Willesden/OOC) with a much higher frequency. That would go some way to alleviating the overcrowding. Heading north options were always limited unless you either doubled back on the slow lines via Euston or headed north on them to Milton Keynes, so gains would be good there too.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Reminder:

"Consultation ends: 03/10/2016 12:00 PM"

I doubt it. In BR days, the pick up/set down rules were in place but not enforced particularly well. The (then MKII) up fast trains were packed when arriving at Watford Junction, yet passengers still crammed themselves into the corridors for a 15 minute rush to Euston. Pu/sd is a perfectly valid way of keeping short trippers off crowded trains not intended for them. Such a restriction would not affect the genuine traveller going from/to MK or Watford to/from or from the North anyway. One of the few benefits of so-called privatisation is the IC trains are run by a different TOC, creating a simple ticketing situation with which to enforce the rules. It's a shame that GWML Reading-stopping services can't be managed that way.
 

mr_jrt

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I doubt it. In BR days, the pick up/set down rules were in place but not enforced particularly well. The (then MKII) up fast trains were packed when arriving at Watford Junction, yet passengers still crammed themselves into the corridors for a 15 minute rush to Euston. Pu/sd is a perfectly valid way of keeping short trippers off crowded trains not intended for them. Such a restriction would not affect the genuine traveller going from/to MK or Watford to/from or from the North anyway. One of the few benefits of so-called privatisation is the IC trains are run by a different TOC, creating a simple ticketing situation with which to enforce the rules. It's a shame that GWML Reading-stopping services can't be managed that way.

My point was more that the trains would be less crowded as they'd
a) Only be serving the intermediate stations between Birmingham and Euston,
b) Their frequency would be higher, so individual train loadings would be lighter,
...and c) More shorter-distance services (say Bletchley or Northampton services, etc) will be able to switch over to the fast lines for that run to Euston using the freed-up paths, relieving the slow lines.

In that context the restrictions would make no sense as the trains wouldn't be packed with passengers to/from Manchester. Liverpool, Crewe, Birmingham, etc.
 

AM9

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My point was more that the trains would be less crowded as they'd
a) Only be serving the intermediate stations between Birmingham and Euston,
b) Their frequency would be higher, so individual train loadings would be lighter,
...and c) More shorter-distance services (say Bletchley or Northampton services, etc) will be able to switch over to the fast lines for that run to Euston using the freed-up paths, relieving the slow lines.

In that context the restrictions would make no sense as the trains wouldn't be packed with passengers to/from Manchester. Liverpool, Crewe, Birmingham, etc.

Maybe based on current volumes, but the trend doesn't look like changing anytime soon.
 
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