The UK Department of Transport unveiled plans for possible extension of the London Crossrail project to Hertfordshire, saying it could speed up reconstruction of the Euston station needed for the HS2 project.
The £14.8bn 118 km Crossrail, currently under construction, will connect the western and eastern suburbs of the capital with the route cutting through central London in a tunnel. In the west, Crossrail will reach as far as Reading, Berkshire, while the eastern branch is currently planned to extend up to Shenfield in Essex.
According to UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, the possible extension would provide faster commuter services, to the Hertfordshire stations of Tring, Hemel Hempstead, Berkhampstead and Watford Junction as well as to Harrow & Wealdstone in north-west London.
The Department of Transport said the plan would also help speed up the rebuilding of the Euston station as a terminus of the HS2 link, as passengers travelling to Hertfordshire would no longer have to change at Euston.
"The plan would provide flexibility and reliability while we build HS2 into (London's) Euston (station). It would make it easier to get on with the massive job of rebuilding the station so it matches the amazing standard of (London's)King's Cross and St Pancras - because everyone who uses Euston now knows it isn't up to scratch,” McLoughlin said.
"It would be a huge boost to Crossrail and London commuters. We're going to examine, right away, how we can run extra services direct into the city and through to Canary Wharf from key stations like Tring, Hemel Hempstead, Harrow and Watford - without the frustrating need to change at Euston."
The Department has run preliminary analysis, which found the extension would cut journey times by up to 15 minutes.
McLoughlin said the extension will only go ahead if it doesn’t cause delays to the original Crossrail construction schedule.
"Of course - as with any feasibility study - final decisions would be subject to a wide range of considerations, including affordability," he said.
Crossrail in its current form should be fully operation by 2019.