Crossrail construction staff at Farringdon station were among the first to hear transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s startling announcement that a spur connecting Crossrail to the West Coast Main Line is being looked at by the DfT.
The rail link will connect Crossrail, at its Old Oak Common interchange, with the Dudding Hill freight line. This will give Crossrail trains access to the West Coast Main Line at Brent Sidings – between Willesden Junction and Stonebridge Park. Crossrail will then be able to connect Hemel Hempstead, Tring, Watford and Harrow with new stations in the City and the West End.
On a special site visit Mr McLoughlin told staff at Farringdon, ‘It would be a huge boost to Crossrail and London commuters. We’re going to examine, right away, how we can run extra services direct into the City and through to Canary Wharf from key stations like Tring, Hemel Hempstead, Harrow and Watford – without the frustrating need to change at Euston.’ The move will obviate the coming
constrictions at Euston while HS2 is built. The feasibility study – conducted in house – should be ready by the end of the year. If authorised ‘High Speed Hertfordshire’ Crossrail services could be operational by 2020.
Analysis of commuter travel patterns suggests 40 per cent of passengers travelling in to central London from Hertfordshire finish their journeys within 1,000 metres of a Crossrail station. This compares to just 10 per cent working within 1,000 metres of Euston. The new link would have the added benefit of reducing congestion at the station and help passengers who have to complete their journey to work on the London Underground.