Urge for policy change after review into Kenilworth Station

A letter is to be sent to the Secretary of State for Transport urging a change in policy after a government review delayed the opening of Kenilworth station.

Warwickshire County Council leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe (Con Stour and the Vale) will write to Chris Grayling requesting that future rail reviews take greater account of the needs of local authorities and partners.

Kenilworth Station.

Kenilworth Station.

The decision was one of 17 recommendations made by the task and finish group that carried out a review into Kenilworth station which opened 17 months later than planned.

Members at last Thursday's council cabinet meeting praised the report of the group which was chaired by former Director General of the Office of Fair Trading John Bridgeman CBE.

In its findings, the report explained how the government’s Hendy Review had put the project back by more than four months and resulted in a single track service rather than the double track that had originally been planned.

The report explained: “The national review into rail infrastructure spending had a major impact on the project coming as it did at a point when planning was well advanced on the basis of twin tracking the line through Kenilworth.

“A need to undertake fresh design work and get this agreed added more than four months to the time required to complete the project.”

The report added that, following discussions with the Department of Transport, it was decided to build the station with just one platform but with a footbridge to futureproof the development.

Cllr Peter Butlin (Con Admirals & Cawston) said the station had been a big success since the first train arrived last April.

“We have had more than 128,000 customers use it and that’s increasing. Financially, it’s doing well as a station and we are very pleased with the results. But the delivery of the station was a very complex affair going back to not owning the land because the old station was in the hands of someone else.

"It’s not jut a case of putting one brick on top of another.

“But we had a buy-in from the whole community right down to schools creating posters. Kenilworth residents wanted it.”

And Cllr Keith Kondakor (Green Weddington) urged councillors to continue pressing for a second track along with further developments on the line.

He said: “We need to electrify this line and get the two tracks because there is a climate change emergency and once we electrify the line and get two tracks we can have a seriously good service along here – one train an hour is a stepping stone to it.”