Local News

New transit system could improve public transport links

Wednesday 27 October 2021

One of the public transport challenges facing Hertfordshire is the lack of good east/west travel options. To get to somewhere like Watford or Hemel Hemstead from Hertford, it’s actually easier to travel into London and then back out again.

The Cambridgeshire Busway. Photo: Ed Webster

In a bid to address this issue, Hertfordshire County Council are looking at the viability of a Mass Rapid Transit system, connecting towns along the A414 corridor. The system would run from Hemel Hempstead and Watford to Harlow, via St.Albans, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City, Hertford and Ware - a combined length of around 40 miles. There could also be an extension to Stansted Airport. The system would be called the Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit.

A Mass Rapid Transit system (MRT) is characterised by fast and frequent passenger services, typically running on a dedicated pathway.  Examples of Mass Rapid Transit systems include the London Underground, the Sheffield Supertram, and the Luton Dunstable guided busway.

A fast and efficient public transport network would also feed into the council’s sustainable transport initiatives, taking cars off the road and reducing congestion. 

Over the coming years, Hertfordshire is expected to build 100,000 new homes and create 100,000 new jobs and improved transport links are vital to support this. 

The mode of transport - such as rail or bus - has not yet been decided. However, a guided busway system would be a fifth of the cost of constructing a similar light or heavy rail project and would also have a larger passenger capacity. Currently, the longest guided busway system in the world is the 16-mile Cambridgeshire Busway, which opened in 2011 and serves Cambridge, Huntingdon and St.Ives. The project is believed to have cost £150m.

Plans for the system are still at the early stages, with the council currently creating a business case for the project to submit to central government. This will explore the benefits the system could provide, the different options available and potential costs.

In the coming months, the county council will also be carrying out a public engagement exercise to get feedback from residents on the idea.

Residents can find out more about the plans by visiting the county council’s website, which includes pages Introducing The Hertfordshire Essex Rapid Transit.

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