Posted 3rd June 2013 | 9 Comments
Kenilworth station plan almost a 'done deal'
THE transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has confirmed that he is 'minded' to help fund an £11.3 million plan for a station at Kenilworth, in Warwickshire – one of England’s largest towns still without a station – with a contribution of up to £5 million. But a new station is not likely to open before December 2016 at the earliest.
The project will depend on Network Rail’s ability to integrate Warwickshire County Council’s plans for the new station with extensive improvements, including greater capacity and electrification planned for the Leamington Spa-Coventry route between 2014 and 2019, the DfT said.
The line between Leamington and Kenilworth was reduced to single track after the town’s previous station closed in 1965.
But last year the route was designated as part of the ‘electric spine’, between the West Coast Main Line at Nuneaton and Southampton, to carry longer freight trains and to enable the Reading-Newcastle CrossCountry service to be diverted via Coventry and Birmingham International.
On a visit to Kenilworth on 3 June with local MP Jeremy Wright – now a Justice Minister, but who worked previously in the Whips’ Office when Patrick McLoughlin was Conservative Chief Whip – the Transport Secretary explained: “Late 2016 is the quickest we could see the station built, given its involvement with the wider electrification programme.”
He added that there was a limit on what he could say about how the project would progress as “we have to hope that the Office of Rail Regulation will give approval to Network Rail’s plans for 2014-19”.
But Mr McLoughlin added: ”It’s very close to being a done deal – otherwise I wouldn’t be making this statement in Kenilworth today.”
Asked which train operator would serve the station – and reminded that CrossCountry had said it did not wish to stop trains at Kenilworth - Mr McLoughlin said: “That is one of the questions we need to address.”
Asked by Railnews if a new service at Kenilworth might be part of re-negotiating the London Midland franchise extension to 2017, the Transport Secretary said: “I couldn’t possible declare my hand.”
If the £5 million grant goes ahead, the Department for Transport said it would be the largest single allocation so far from the New Stations Fund, which has recently been used to make contributions of varying amounts to four other new station projects in England and Wales amounting to £19 million.
The original fund, which is administered by Network Rail, was set at £20 million but the Transport Secretary insisted that there was no extra budget, even though the Kenilworth scheme could involve a £5 million contribution.
The DfT said Kenilworth station would provide two 100m platforms, long enough for four-car trains and with passive provision for these to be lengthened in the future.
“Because extensive infrastructure improvements are planned on this line in the near future, Network Rail is continuing to investigate how the scheme can be integrated into its wider programme,” said the DfT.
• On his way to and from making his station announcement at the council offices in Kenilworth, the Transport Secretary had to face a small band of anti-HS2 protestors, led by Stop HS2 leader Joe Rukin. Mr McLoughlin denied that he was backing a new Kenilworth station because of the local opposition to HS2.
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