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Trains between Hertford North and Stevenage

We're keeping trains running between Hertford North and Stevenage until May 2019

We will continue running trains between Watton-at-Stone and Stevenage until May 2019 and not December as previously advertised.

The extension has been made possible following the rail industry’s decision to postpone the further timetable change planned for December 2018. This leaves space to turn around trains from the Hertford Loop at Stevenage station, in the existing platforms.

The first phase of the RailPlan20/20 transformation begins in May this year with a new direct Thameslink service via Hitchin and Stevenage across central London between Cambridge, Gatwick and Brighton, and Peterborough, Gatwick and Horsham. It will also deliver more frequent off-peak services between Hertford North and Moorgate.

The rail industry is also working together to finalise the plan for reinstating a full train service between Stevenage and Hertford North, via Watton-at-Stone. Network Rail is aiming to complete a fifth platform and 1.5 miles of new electrified line at Stevenage to enable train services to be resumed in 2021 and is looking to accelerate this into 2020.

In summary:

May 2018

  • As part of our improvements to the timetable, services from Watton-at-Stone and Hertford North to Moorgate will double to two trains per hour in the off-peak – currently only one train per hour
  • There will be an hourly peak service from Watton-at-Stone to Stevenage (this is a reduction from the current half hourly peak service but is unavoidable until a new line, signalling and platform are built at Stevenage, where these trains will be able to turn around. There will be no change in the hourly off peak service to Stevenage)

May 2019

  • A rail replacement bus service will begin between Stevenage, Watton-at-Stone and Hertford North from Monday – Saturday. There will be one train per hour along this section on Sundays. Rail services from Watton-at-Stone and Hertford North to Moorgate will continue
  • There will be a bus service between Watton-at-Stone and Stevenage to replace the rail service between those two points and another bus between Stevenage and Hertford North, to connect with trains to and from Moorgate, in London. Watton-at-Stone is an unstaffed station with few facilities for those with accessibility needs; Hertford North has lifts and is staffed. When the buses are introduced, passengers travelling from Hertford North to Stevenage will be advised to transfer onto the rail replacement bus at Hertford North, not Watton-at Stone

Why do we need a new platform at Stevenage?

A brand new timetable being introduced from May 2018, including trains running direct from Stevenage to Gatwick and many south coast destinations and an increase in trains from Hertford North to Moorgate, means that there will not be enough platform space at Stevenage for Hertford/Watton trains to stop and turn round, so a new bay platform is required.

When will the new platform be built?

The government has committed to the bay platform being built at Stevenage. Detailed plans have started to be drawn up in consultation with our train service provider, Great Northern. Once the planning has been advanced we will have a clearer idea of when work will begin.

Why can’t the new platform be built without disrupting our services from Watton-at-stone?

Extensive engineering works are required to build the new platform, integrate it to the current Stevenage station and to the surrounding track and signals. This includes works to the track between Langley Junction and Stevenage to take our trains to the new platform without using the existing East Coast main line which is required for all the other services.

Can this work be carried out overnight when trains aren’t running?

Unfortunately not. Apart from the complex infrastructure mentioned above, there is on average a gap of only 4 hours between the last train on one day and the start of service the next day. This isn’t long enough to get all of the required machinery and main power in place, and off site again for long enough to carry out all of the required work. The only option is to do the work all at once and try to reduce the period of disruption to the shortest possible.

Network Rail have started to carry out detailed planning to include the latest technology and engineering techniques to make the platform build time as short as possible to minimise disruption for passengers. And they will be making maximum use of so-called “white” periods – Bank Holidays etc – to get as much done as quickly as possible.