Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced that the government is considering extending the £14.8bn Crossrail line to Hertfordshire.
He said proposals suggest that journey times from Hertfordshire to central London could be reduced by around 15 minutes.
McLoughlin said the possible extension would also give developers the opportunity to make major improvements to Euston station, which would need 11 new platforms if HS2 goes ahead.
He also explained that an extension would not interfere with Crossrail’s current schedule.
Crossrail is on track (no pun intended, honest) to be fully operational by 2019, and will connect central London to Reading in the west, and Shenfield (in Brentwood) in the east.
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McLoughlin told Crossrail workers at Farringdon station yesterday: “We are looking at proposals to extend Crossrail services even further by opening a new route to key destinations in Hertfordshire.
“The plan would provide flexibility and reliability while we build HS2 into Euston. It would make it easier to get on with the massive job of rebuilding the station so it matches the amazing standard of King’s Cross and St Pancras – because everyone who uses Euston now knows it isn’t up to scratch.
“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.”
He added: “I want to get on with this work, so I have asked HS2 Ltd to work closely with the Crossrail sponsors to explore the proposals in more detail.
“I have made clear to my department that any changes must not affect the timetable or planned service pattern for the existing Crossrail scheme, which is scheduled to be fully operational by 2019.
“Of course – as with any feasibility study – final decisions would be subject to a wide range of considerations, including affordability.”