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Hertfordshire County Council

Background

The roads from Hemel Hempstead to Harlow already experience significant traffic congestion and poor journey time reliability.

We are supporting the district and borough councils in planning for more than 100,000 new homes and more than 100,000 new jobs to meet our needs over the next 15 years.

That means there will be further demand on our schools, health and social care and our already congested road and rail network. To achieve the plans, requires a sustainable passenger transport system that puts people first.

In the A414 Corridor Strategy (produced with district and borough councils), we identified that a mass rapid transit system was fundamental to greener and more efficient travel.

We are now exploring options, with the aim of submitting a strategic outline business case for the Hertfordshire section of the scheme to the Department for Transport in spring 2022.

 

Where will it go?

The key places to be served by the HERT are connected by the A414 east-west, the A405 North Orbital Road and Abbey Rail Line between St Albans and Watford.

  • Hemel Hempstead – Gilston is the main east-west section that will serve the main settlements between Hemel Hempstead and the new Gilston Garden Town. It will also improve connections to Luton Airport via interchange in St Albans.
  • Gilston – Harlow (and onwards to Stansted Airport) will provide links from Gilston Garden Town and into Harlow, providing improved onward connections to Stansted Airport via the new bus interchange at Harlow town centre.
  • St Albans – Watford this north-south section is currently served by the Abbey Line with potential for onward connections to west Watford.

It's likely that these sections will be worked on in phases as funding becomes available and in line with planned development.

 

What type of vehicle will it be?

We'll use detailed technical studies and further public engagement to look at how the HERT will operate, the exact route it will take, and the type of vehicles it will use. These elements will not be included as part of the current public engagement.

Hertfordshire County Council and Essex County Council will work closely to ensure that rapid and seamless journeys can be made across the entire rapid transit network.

Our vision is for a zero-emission vehicle with a modern, comfortable and spacious design that is easy and accessible for all passengers to use.

Scheme objectives

Our 3 key ambitions are:

The HERT will make travel easier to access current and future job opportunities and will provide businesses with greater access to skilled people.

  • Supporting the significant long-term planned growth in the county with better connections between new and existing communities and jobs.
  • Providing a more attractive alternative for motor vehicle users.
  • Ensuring that we are at the forefront of new mass rapid transit technologies to stimulate economic growth.

 

Making the HERT a reality

A project of this scale will take some years to develop and requires substantial investment from local and central government, together with private sector partners.

We are in the early stage of developing proposals on the HERT and have a number of steps to go through before it can be built.

We will be consulting the public at each stage, with ongoing engagement throughout the duration of the scheme. We will engage with local communities, civic groups, businesses and other organisations to ensure the widest possible spread of voices is heard during this process.

 

Steps to complete the project

Step 1: Early options – business case (2021-22)

We're currently creating the strategic outline business case for the project to submit to government. This will explore what benefits the HERT could provide, the different options available and potential costs.

The aim of the document is to secure funding to develop the project further. No decision has yet been made on the exact route of the system, the type of vehicle or the stations the HERT will serve.

In autumn 2021, we'll be undertaking public engagement to ask for feedback on:

  • the principles of the HERT, including the vision of what we want to achieve and its key features
  • the need and benefits of the HERT
  • current travel behaviours of people in Hertfordshire and West Essex and the possible trips that could be made using the HERT
  • the towns and key transport interchanges the HERT could serve within an east-west corridor from Hemel Hempstead and West Watford to Harlow.

We need your help to ensure we build a transport system that works for everyone. Find out more about the HERT at our Public Engagement events in autumn 2021.

Step 2: Consultation (2022 onwards)

Following the submission of the strategic outline business case, and subject to funding from central government, we'll undertake further public consultation to gain views of the different route options that have been identified.

This will be your chance to tell us what you think, helping us establish a preferred option for the routing, the type of mass rapid transit vehicle and how it will operate.

Step 3: Developing the scheme – strategic outline business case

Once we have an agreed option, we will complete an outline business case which will set out:

  • what is required to build and operate the new transport system
  • how much it will cost
  • the resulting benefits.

This business case will enable us to start the process of seeking funding from other organisations such as the Department for Transport and other funding partners. We will also create a more detailed technical design.

Step 4: Planning consent and creating the full business case

Once we have confidence that the scheme is fundable, we will seek statutory powers and approvals, such as planning permission. We will also identify who is going to build and who is going to operate HERT.

This information will feed into a final full business case to unlock funding to allow HERT to be delivered.

Step 5: Construction

Construction can start once we have all the necessary powers, approvals and funding in place. Given the ambitious scale of the project, we expect that it will take several years to reach this stage.


 

Any questions? Email us at HERT@hertfordshire.gov.uk.

Hertfordshire Growth Board HERT article

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