Article date 25 March 2010
Revised 04 March 2016
The subject of this article is the means of constructing a chord from Hertford North to Hertford East. A note on terminology : this chord is a south-to-east chord, even though the stations involved happen to be named Hertford North and Hertford East.
A plan illustrating how this chord forms part of Orbital routes is : Hertford to Stansted Airport and Barking (with plan) (Note 4).
A former railway line from Welwyn that connected to the line from Hertford East to Cheshunt provided an alignment through the town of Hertford much of which would seem to be still available. Details follow.
The line through Hertford North and Gordon Hill is known as the Hertford loop, being a loop off the East Coast Main Line.
South of Hertford North the railway line crosses the A414 on a bridge. Nearby and to the east of this bridge is a turn-off from the A414 southwards, running parallel to the railway line. This short road goes by the name of Mimram Road. A viaduct can be seen (on the other side of a river) not far from the end of Mimram Road. This viaduct provided the means by which the Hertford loop crossed the former railway line from Welwyn. After passing beneath the Hertford loop, this former railway line ran alongside the Hertford loop. This alignment can be seen on both sides of the A414 to the immediate east of the bridge where the Hertford loop crosses the A414, i.e. not far from the point where Mimram Road is a turning off the A414. (The A414 is a busy road and care needs to be taken when crossing.)
The alignment of this former railway line is again visible by heading from Hertford North station in a north easterly direction on a minor road. A field is on the left. A railway embankment is on the right. This alignment including former bridges and some bridges still standing can now be followed through Hertford and would seem to be still largely available. A point is reached where a few houses have been built, a bridge blocked up and several offices built. Continuing, the route becomes a car park. From here, the former railway line crossed the canal to join the line near Hertford East station. The railway bridge is no longer in existence although a water pipe and bridge ends mark where the bridge was. Although the bridge is no longer in existence, it is possible to cross the canal elsewhere on a footbridge. Our visit did not enable us to follow the former route on the east of the canal, however we do know that the route of the former railway to the east of the canal now has a row of flats built on it.
It would seem a new alignment could turn off the Hertford loop after crossing the viaduct, passing immediately beside Hertford North station and following the alignment of the former railway line to the car park as mentioned. From here a suitable alignment would need to be determined, crossing the canal, then either joining the existing line from Hertford East or connecting into Hertford East station. There would obviously need to be a station stop on this new route. An extension eastwards of Hertford North station would seem to be possible, there being good alignment between the existing station platforms and the former line. An extension or relocation northwards of Hertford East station might be feasible.
This chord has also been the subject of a study by the East West Rail Consortium and included in the Central Section Report February 2009, Figure 4.3 being an aerial view of the locality. The Central Section report is available here (opens in new window or tab).
Information on the former station Hertford Cowbridge is available at Hertford Cowbridge railway station (opens in new window or tab).
Only a single visit has been undertaken. Detailed study would be needed prior to determining a suitable alignment.
The former line from Welwyn can be accessed from the village of Hertingfordbury to the west of Hertford. From the A414, take the turn-off to Hertingfordbury, then turn left on St Mary's Road leading to a bridge where the former railway line crossed. It is possible to walk or cycle on the former line.