Oh, Crossrail: don’t know where you’re going, don’t know where you’re coming from.
By now, we all pretty much thought we knew which route London’s new regional railway line was going to take: from Heathrow and Reading in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east. But today, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that the route could be extended again: from a junction at Old Oak Common, west of Paddington, along what’s currently a freight route to the West Coast Main Line (WCML), which runs into Euston.
Which services this new branch would take over is not entirely clear. In the past, when a Crossrail extension following this route was discussed, Milton Keynes was the destination, but in today’s announcement the town is conspicuous by its absence. Instead we get references to the Hertfordshire commuter towns of Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Tring.
That suggests Crossrail would take over the two services each hour which currently run as far as the latter station, about 30 miles from central London. (By way of comparison, Shenfield is around 20 miles out; Reading is nearly 40.) Here’s a map of where we think the line might go, with the new section marked in red.