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Friends of the Nickey Line carried out a usage survey in May 2020 to measure the very high usage being seen throughout the Nickey Line during the Lockdown. More than 50 volunteers reported counts for their section of the Line, ranging from before 7.00 until 21.00 each day for more than two weeks.

 - Daily usage over the individual Redbourn to Hemel Hempstead sections was estimated at about 350 uses per day and over 1,000 uses per day for the Harpenden sections.

- Overall Nickey Line Lockdown usage was 12,000 uses per week. This is almost 3 times the last count we had of 4,100 normal uses for the Harpenden section in July 2013.


The Coronavirus lockdown in late March 2020 immediately resulted in much greater use of the Nickey Line than normal, with the widespread impression being gained of much higher numbers of users than any previously ever seen.  Sample counts in late April and early May appeared to confirm this, with projected usage apparently well above the base usage of 4,100 per week counted in early July 2013.

To obtain a more definitive usage estimate, a ‘Whole Line’ survey was undertaken from 14th May till the month end. This was mainly based on reports from volunteer users of how many people they had seen using the Line in 30 minute periods whilst they were using the Line themselves in their normal exercise breaks from Lockdown. Whilst two formal surveys had been undertaken by Friends of the Nickey Line over the Harpenden section (2006 and 2013) and one on the Redbourn Lane roundabout crossings (in 2015), this was our first major survey to also include  Hemel Hempstead and Redbourn.

More than 50 volunteers reported a total of more than 280 counts overall, each count covering the ‘stream’ of users over one or more sections of the Line and ranging from before 7.00 until 21.00 on the day in question. Friends’ Chairman Dave Abernethy said, “We are very grateful for our volunteers’ time and diligence. They made the survey possible despite the restrictions and challenges we all faced in the Lockdown period.”  


Survey Results


1.         Overall Usage Estimates for Individual Line Sections:

·      Daily usage over the individual Redbourn to Hemel Hempstead sections was estimated at about 350 uses per day in each of these sections.

·      The Harpenden sections saw much higher volumes, with user traffic estimated at over 1,000 individual uses per day. 


2.        Overall Line User Estimates:

·         After adjusting for such statistical factors as single way and two way (return) use and long distance users being possibly double counted in different parts of the Line, our estimate of average daily Lockdown use across the Nickey Line was 1,740 individual uses and the weekly figure was 12,180 uses.

·         Allowing for statistical variation, the central overall weekly estimate of Nickey Line Lockdown usage was 12,000 uses.



Friends of the Nickey Line Chairman Dave Abernethy said, “The weekly count of 12,000 uses was almost three times the previous record count from July 2013 and reflects greater use by local people from all the Line’s three major communities of Hemel Hempstead, Redbourn and Harpenden. The Nickey Line has been a major local amenity for exercise and relaxation from the challenges we have all faced during Lockdown.”




Dave Abernethy 

Friends of the Nickey Line

01582 622 771

07788 198283

  •  The Nickey Line was originally created as a railway line between Hemel Hempstead, Redbourn and Harpenden but is now widely used by local residents, children, dog walkers, cyclists, runners and wildlife enthusiasts for exercise, relaxation or simply for travel to and from school, work or friends.
  •  Friends of the Nickey Line was formed in 2006 to represent the many users of the Nickey Line from Harpenden, Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead but also from further afield and to improve the Line as a local amenity

  •  A copy of the Survey report is available from LINE LOCKDOWN USAGE REPORT 040820.pdf

 Photographs of the Nickey Line can be obtained from Friends of the Nickey Line.



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