CROXLEY GREEN - WATFORD HIGH STREET (Pt.2)

(1912 - 1996)

This branch line was opened by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) to provide competition with the Metropolitan line, whose influence was in the ascendancy in north-west London. The line branched off the ill-fated Watford - Rickmansworth line, opened originallly by the Watford and Rickmansworth Railway (and which was absorbed into the LNWR only nineteen years after opening).

The main Rickmansworth line was closed to passengers in 1952, its demise caused by a familiar pattern of more direct and cheaper services elsewhere. The Croxley Green branch somehow survived Beeching's axe but attempts to create more traffic by providing more frequent services failed. The line was closed unofficially in 1996 when a new dual carriageway cut through the line and a new replacement bridge was deemed as not being financially viable. Formal closure was passed in 2002, albeit with the long-term intention of the line being taken over by the Metropolitan Line.

So, a line that was built originally in competition with the Metropolitan Line seems destined to be taken over by it and will owe its continuted existence to it. Long delayed plans have now been authorised that will see the Metropolitan divert away from its current (and remote) Watford terminus and run over the Croxley Green branch to Watford Junction.

The detailed plans are contained in this excellent site: www.croxleyraillink.com from which much information contained here is sourced from.

Curiously, none of the three stations on the Croxley Green branch will be retained; they will be replaced by two stations in different locations along the line. Thus although the majority of the line is due to be reinstated, these webpages will remain as testament to its former stations.

 


 

CROXLEY GREEN - ASCOT ROAD 

 

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The bridge over the Grand Union Canal - the line was severed in 1996 by a new dual carriageway beyond the end of the bridge. The subsequent application to close the line was presumably seen as only a formality, as it was thus physically impossible for a train to reach the Croxley Green terminus.

This is a standard device for closing railways i.e. make the service so poor and infrequent that passengers go elsewhere and make closure justifiable. Sometimes though, the lines aren't closed, and the 'ghost' services, otherwise known as Parliamentary trains, remain. See this excellent article in The Independent for further details.

(photo: 2001)

 

 

 

The bridge viewed from its western side. It is known that the bridge will not be re-used (for trains at least) but its long-term future is uncertain (presumably it will be demolished, although it would provide a footpath from the Croxley Green station area through to the new Ascot Road station).

The new link between the Metropolitan line and the Croxley Green line will cross the canal in the space between the photographer and the old bridge.

(photo: Jan 2012)

 

 

 

View from the old bridge back the other way. This view will not exist for much longer because the new line is going to be built in the gap between the photographer and the road bridge (never mind that the old railway bridge will probably be demolished).

The viaduct in the background is carrying a Metropolitan line train to Watford. That section of track (along with Watford station) will be closed to passenger trains after the opening of the new line.

(photo: Jan 2012)

 

 

 

Southward view of the dual carriageway that cut through the railway embankment. The slope that leads up to the embankment on the left (eastern) side is obvious but the right hand side bit of the embankment is mainly silhouetted by the setting sun. The right hand side leads to the Croxley Green terminus.

The new link bridge from the Metropolitan line will cross the dual carriageway in the same place that the embankment used to be. Just about visible on the left hand side is the bridge carrying the line over Ascot Road (the yellow/black height restriction warning stripes, as seen in a couple of photos below, can just be made out). The western end of the new Ascot Road station will be built over the road where the bridge is.

(photo: Jan 2012)

 

 

 

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The embankment severed for the new dual carriageway. This is looking from the Croxley Green side towards Watford.

Photo ©2005 - Will Temple

 

 

 

The bridge over Ascot Road looking north. The western end of the new Ascot Road station will be here, above the road - the rest of it will be on the right hand side.

(photo: Jan 2012)

 

 

 

 

 

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Older photo of the bridge over Ascot Road. The large disused buildings in the background were the Sun Printers premises, now demolished. An article dealing with their closure is here.

(photo: 2002)

 

 

 

On top of the bridge at track level looking westward toward the Croxley Green direction. This area will form the western part of the new Ascot Road station.

An animation of the new route can be found here.

(photo: Jan 2012)

 

 

 

View eastward from Ascot Road bridge at the area that the Ascot Road station platforms will take up.

(photo: Jan 2012)

 

 

 

View in the opposite direction from above looking back at the bridge area from a more easterly point. This is the site of the new Ascot Road station.

(photo: Jan 2012)

 

 

An aerial perspective courtesy of Google Earth:

Move your cursor over the image to see a very amateurish attempt at drawing a line showing where the new Metropolitan line link will be.



 

Part 3