The County Council has opened a public consultation on the future of rail travel in Hertfordshire.
Whilst the council has no role in running the railways, the strategy defines how it engages with the rail industry and stakeholders to ensure that the network serves the county's growing population.
The draft rail strategy notes:
The rail industry in Hertfordshire is complex. Routes are predominately arranged to serve London, and therefore the system is more of a series of discrete lines rather than a joinedup countywide network. The rail industry is also set up to serve the radial routes and there are many different rail organisations and divisions of national organisations i.e. Network Rail, that cover Hertfordshire. A total of 11 train operating companies (TOCs) provide services in Hertfordshire and are responsible for the management of 50 stations. The stations range in footfall from 20,000 passengers per year at Park Street to over 8 million at Watford, and 23 stations each handle over 1 million passengers per year.
The use of the rail network is heavily dominated by commuting trips, accounting for 76% of all rail journeys. The main destination for these trips is into Greater London.
The report also notes that there are issues with station and train facilities and that two of the poorest performing Train Operating Companies operate in Hertfordshire - Greater Anglia and Great Northern.
A number of Hertfordshire’s rail lines are forecast to be over capacity by 2031.
Particular issues mentioned include capacity constraints, bottlenecks, peak time overcrowding, low frequencies and slow journey times. The report points to Hertford North as having "an urgent need to reduce overcrowding in the peak periods".
At Hertford East the strategy acknowledges the introduction of a new fleet of trains and an increase in frequency from two to three trains per hour.
The consultation can be read at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/about-the-council/consultations/transport-and-highways/rail-strategy-consultation.aspx and closes on 30th March 2020.
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