St Albans Branch Line
|St Albans Abbey Branch Line|
The St Albans Abbey Branch Line is a railway line from Watford Junction to St Albans Abbey. In its short 6.5 miles, the route goes through town and countryside. The service on the line is often referred to as the "Abbey Flyer", after St Albans Abbey.
The branch line, single throughout, was opened from Watford Junction by the London and North Western Railway on 5 May1858, the first railway to reach the town. There were originally just two stations: at Park Street and Bricket Wood. In 1910 a further station was opened, at Callowland. The terminus at St Albans had a name change to St Albans Abbey in 1924 to distinguish it from the Midland Railway main line station (known as St Albans City), opened in 1868. The LNWR station was also served by a branch of the Great Northern Railway from Hatfield.
The line today
Passenger services are currently operated by Silverlink under the Silverlink County brand, using a 25kV AC voltage Class 321/4 electric multiple unit, or a 25kV Class 313 if a 321/4 is not available. On rare occasions a Class 150 diesel multiple unit has been substituted.
Signalling on the line is simple - the line is operated under "One Train Without A Train Staff" rules, where only one train is allowed on the line at a time. Trains can be taken off the line into Watford Junction yard when required using a manual process, which takes some time.
There is an ABCL (automatic barrier crossing - locally monitored) level crossing outside Watford North operated by a treadle and a manual plunger for trains towards St Albans, and by a treadle for trains towards Watford Junction.
The service is a pay train and all stations between Watford North and St Albans Abbey are unstaffed, so any ticket can be bought on the train. If joining at Watford Junction, you will require a ticket before you join the train, otherwise you will have to pay full fare.
The line has been selected as one of Britain's first "Community Railways" by the Strategic Rail Authority - see the Abbeyline Community Rail Partnership website for more information.
Since 1995, the Abbey Flyers Users Group (ABFLY) has been campaigning to secure the future of the line and encourage its growth as an important transport link.