Yesterday Mayor Dorothy Thornhill and Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst today met with the Managing Director of London Midland to nail a solution for all those residents who night after night are stuck waiting anywhere up to 40 minutes to try and exit from Watford Junction station.
One of the current problems is caused by the taxis, lining up through the tunnel, blocking off a lane of flowing traffic. The Borough Council has helped London Midland by providing a new crossing point on the service road paid for by London Midland as its in there control. Dorothy said, “ I am pleased that as a Council we have helped make crossing the service road safer but its essential it’s not blocked up with parked cars. It’s just not on, especially when you’ve already had a long day at work! So we have got London Midland to agree that from Friday the tunnel will become what is known as a ‘red route’. Red routes operate successfully in London, and this will be Watford’s first one. It will mean nobody is allowed to stop in the tunnel.
Dorothy continued: “I do have huge sympathies for the taxi drivers, and understand entirely why they are feeling so frustrated too. They pay London Midland £500 a year to be able to pick up passengers from London Midland, and since the new layout has been put in place have found themselves with a lot less space. There is no obvious solution to this problem, as clearly what’s done is now done re the layout, but all parties involved are trying to find another place for the taxis to wait.
Many residents have also been annoyed about the loss of the passenger drop-off bay since the station forecourt layout changed. At an earlier meetings, at which Dorothy and Stephen brought together representatives from Herts County Council, London Midland and Network Rail, Transport for London it was agreed that a new passenger-drop area need to be created. It is something that councillors and Dorothy asked for in the original plans but has so far been refused for the station forecourt by Network Rail and London Midland who own and manage it.
Now as a result of pressure from Dorothy and Stephen county officers are looking at the feasibility of a drop off in Station Road between Bridle Path and St Albans Road by reducing the large footway width here to avoid drivers having to do the big loop around to get to the short stay car park. County Officers are looking at costings for this and that should be know before the end of the year.
Dorothy added: “I’m told a feasibility study is taking place and this continues to progress. All of this work is not in my direct power, but what I can (and will continue to) do is try to County Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst County Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst influence those that can make the changes to get on a do them. My worry is there appears to be a lack of urgency.”
“The long term solution is to create another entrance to the station, from St Albans Road or from the rear. This is anything but straight-forward as neither London Midland nor Watford Borough Council owns the land by Penn Road which would be an obvious solution – it is owned by HSBC – and so far they have not been co-operating. We will however all be giving them one further push to attempt to get them on board.
It is all very frustrating for everybody that has to use the station, and for all of us as unfortunately there are just no quick wins. However, I am confident that the new red route and its enforcement will at least ease the entry/exit delays to and from the car park.”
County Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst added, “ It’s almost been very frustrating that we still have buses parked up in Woodford Road rather than in the bus depot. The original aim was to take all the buses off the road but this is still not happening because Transport for London say it’s not safe to get all the buss in their without further changes. I am pleased that the Borough and Country council have come up with some suggested changes to make this feasible and I am pushing for this to happen asap.”
Mayor Dorothy Thornhill, London Midland and Network Rail agreed that with the station getting close to capacity it need a long term master plan which could unlock potential development land at the rear of the station and allow for a more fundamental redevelopment. Network Rail as the land owners agreed to lead on setting up a group to lead a project on this.