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Rail service under threat

 Published on: 12th August 2015   |   By: The Newsdesk   |   Category:

A rail link which connects St Albans and Watford could be closed for good and converted into a concrete busway much to the outrage of campaigners. The line which is known as the Abbey Line is under threat after Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) announced it could replace the train tracks with two parallel busways. The scheme, known as a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and the proposal has angered The Abbey Flyer Users Group (ABFLY) who represent the users of the rail service and fight for the long-term future of the line and campaign as well as campaigning for further investment. Such busways have been pushed through by other local authorities, with cash handouts from the government, in the face of overwhelming public opposition – and warnings from professionals about the viability of the schemes. The most high profile busway, in Cambridge, cost £152 million to build, ran nearly three times over budget and three years late. Today the concrete guideways are crumbling, bus stops are neglected and ridership is declining. Closer to home, the Luton and Dunstable busway, which cost nearly £100m, is underperforming very badly with usage figures about 50 per cent of those predicted. Robin White, who has used the Abbey Line for more than 20 years, couldn’t hide his disappointment at the plans. He said: “We’ve been here before and nothing has changed. “All the line has ever needed is comparatively little investment in the existing service, which could transform it with more frequent and later-running trains. What’s more, following the recent rail works at Watford Junction, it is now possible to run trains through to Euston – something we’ve wanted all along.” ABFLY launched a No2Bus campaign and organised a protest meeting which was attended by Councillor Derrick Ashley from HCC and a representative from London Midland, the current train operator. Further information from the ABFLY website www.abfly.org.uk/no2bus

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