Proposed rail links worth billions of pounds have been delayed or halted since the year 2000.
Transport chiefs including several mayors of London and cabinet ministers have previously said they would plug Herts towns into cross-capital train lines.
A new government cash boost for London’s infrastructure worth £250million means Transport for London (TfL) can buy new Piccadilly Line trains built in Goole, Yorkshire – work which is already underway.
But the 2024 funding settlement “probably means there won’t be any other big ticket items” in the region next year, according to BBC London transport correspondent Tom Edwards. The deal falls short of the £500m-a-year which TfL bosses had asked for.
Crossrail 2 – £32.6bn (2016)
Crossrail 2 could be in jeopardy.
The proposed railway would connect Broxbourne, Cheshunt and Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire with Dalston, central London, Wimbledon and Surrey. An early price tag for the scheme was £12billion.
But in 2016, TfL estimated the scheme would cost £32.6bn – more than the £18.9bn cost of Crossrail 1, now known as the Elizabeth Line. At the highest estimate, building Crossrail 2 could add £102bn to the regional economy based on 2011 prices.
Seb Dance, Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayor for transport, told MyLondon in November that the scheme could “absolutely” be put at risk if TfL fails to fill a £500m gap in its capital projects budget.
Crossrail 1 – at least £195m (2011)
Hertfordshire’s commuters have missed out on infrastructure deals before.
The Crossrail company considered two proposals for long-distance routes between central London and Watford, Tring, Broxbourne and Bishop’s Stortford.
Analysts scrapped plans for an under-London “Superlink” and “SuperCrossrail” in 2005. They found the long-distance schemes would cost up to 80 per cent more than the built Elizabeth Line route.
Network Rail planners revived proposals for an Elizabeth Line link to Watford and Tring in 2011. They proposed building a £195-248m piece of track connecting the Paddington and Euston lines near Ealing in London.
The Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government launched a study into the scheme in 2014, but the government dropped plans two years later because they represented “poor overall value for money”.
Bakerloo Line extension – at least £100m (2008)
Early London Plans suggested the Bakerloo Line could reach Watford Junction by 2017.
The London Underground line’s northern terminus is at Harrow and Wealdstone and the trains share a track with the London Overground route into Hertfordshire.
A 2008 document reveals the Bakerloo scheme was “under development” with a “medium” project price between £100m and £1bn. Three years later, a TfL-backed study listed the project as “unlikely”.
Metropolitan Line extension – £357.8m (2018)
TfL must spend its £250m settlement on long-term projects and cash cannot be used to fund day-to-day running costs. It is due to last for one year.
A 2003 estimate for the scheme stood at £61.2m. But the price tag had increased by almost 500 per cent by 2018.
Authorities including TfL and Hertfordshire County Council had spent £71.2m laying foundations for the scheme by 2017. London’s City Hall bought an extra train for £15.5m to use on the route, which entered into passenger service.
A Met Line extension “is not affordable for [the] foreseeable future”, according to a 2021 report which TfL, Hertfordshire County Council and Watford Borough Council commissioned.
Consultants laid out a series of options, which included converting the Croxley route into a cycle track, a new tram-train between Croxley and St Albans, or a London Overground branch line.
London and Hertfordshire need ‘multi-year deal’
TfL’s £250m funding settlement must be spent on long-term projects and cannot be used to fund day-to-day running costs. It is due to last for one year.
Muniya Barua, deputy chief executive at the membership organisation BusinessLDN, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “[The] one-year capital settlement for TfL provides some short-term certainty.
“It is now vital that a multi-year funding deal is agreed to enable London and suppliers across the country to plan for the future with confidence.
“That would benefit commuters and businesses in neighbouring Hertfordshire and the home counties who rely on the daily connectivity of the capital.”
Ms Barua added: “The benefits of long-term investment in London’s transport infrastructure are spread across the UK, unlocking development, growth and boosting supply chains.”
Peter Taylor, the Liberal Democrat Mayor of Watford, said connectivity with London is a “top issue” for the town’s residents.
The directly-elected mayor said: “We have got a situation where TfL has not got the funding it requires, so we have to be realistic. It will require government funding.”
Mr Taylor has previously called on the Mayor of London to move Watford into zone 6 to cut the cost of tickets into the central area. Watford Junction lies outside the fare zone system.
“There is no logic to the system,” he said.
“We want it to be fair.
“The system we have now has developed on an ad hoc basis.”
Labour’s Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was “relieved” to secure a one-year funding deal. He added: “It’s still vitally important that we agree a decent long-term funding settlement from the government that allows us to plan and invest for the infrastructure London will need over the coming decades.”
Rail minister Huw Merriman announced the £250m figure on Monday, December 18. He said: “This investment must be well managed in a way that doesn’t unfairly burden the pockets of taxpayers and motorists.”
Mr Merriman added: “We’re investing in transport across the country and today’s agreement will have a tangible, positive impact not just for people travelling in and around the capital but also the millions who visit every year.
“It is fair for Londoners and taxpayers, underpinning projects that will support hundreds of skilled manufacturing jobs in our vital rail sector.”
According to the government, the Department for Transport has provided TfL with almost £6.4billion since 2020.