St Albans Branch Line

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St Albans Abbey Branch Line

Watford Junction
Watford North
Bricket Wood
How Wood
Park Street
St Albans Abbey

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 6.5-mile route was electrified at 25 kV AC overhead in 1987-1988

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.

Future trends

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.

The line will not come under the control of London Overground, but TfL have plans to take over the St Albans branch line in the future More information here

If this were to happen the St Albans branch line could be transferred to the Bakerloo Line or Metropolitan Line once they are extended to Watford Junction.

External links

Railway lines in London:
North London:  Dudding Hill Line   Hertford Loop Line   Gospel Oak-Barking Line   North London Line   Northern City Line   Lea Valley Lines  
 St Albans Branch Line   Thameslink   Watford DC Line
East London:  Romford-Upminster Line
South London:  Bexleyheath Line   Bromley North Line   Catford Loop Line   Greenwich Line   Dartford Loop Line
 Hayes Line   Hounslow Loop Line   South London Lines   Tattenham Corner Line   Thameslink
West London:  West London Line
Proposed network: London Overground