Full explanation of station cost is needed

Copy of a letter sent to Cllr Dave Shilton:

As my county councillor I wish to raise a matter of concern related to the projected cost due to met by Warwickshire County Council in relation to the enabling, construction and establishment of Kenilworth’s railway station.

Let me be clear, I wholeheartedly support the a railway station for Kenilworth and as you know I have supported its reinstatement along with you and others for the 18 years I have lived in the town.

You may have seen in Friday’s edition of the Kenilworth Weekly News that questions have been raised over the cost the station’s construction being borne by the County Council of which you are a elected member.

Put simply, Warwickshire County Council’s website, states the projected cost of Kenilworth’s Railway Station is £12.1 million – yet new stations currently being developed between Oxford and Bicester along the first phase of the East/West Railway have lower costs while being built for longer trains.

The station most similar in scale to Kenilworth’s, at Islip, is costing £2.5 million, little more than a fifth of the price quoted for Kenilworth’s station. The rebuilt station at Islip will have two platforms at 200 metres long and able to accommodate eight coach trains with parking for 50 cars.

Kenilworth’s new station will also have two platforms (in readiness for redoubling the track from Leamington) but these will be only 100 metres long and thus only able to accommodate four coach trains (I acknowledge it includes ‘passive provision’ for later extension, but at further cost, to eight-coach lengths) There is parking for 88 cars.

Indeed, the largest station between Oxford and Bicester – Water Eaton Parkway (on the northern outskirts of Oxford) will provide parking for 425 cars and will also have two eight coach length platforms – is costed at £10 million with £3.6 million of that accounted for by the need to relocate a railfreight aggregates depot that previously occupied the site. So how does WCC get to a cost of £12.1m?

Further, the council, by stating on its website a £12.1m cost for the construction of Kenilworth’s railway station whilst at the same time saying it cannot comment on the details of the high cost because it are in a tendering process, has effectively advertised to potential contractors a figure they can bid up to. This in itself requires explanation.

The high cost is dubious. Either it is genuinely erroneous, in which case this needs to be identified and clarified. Alternatively, a proportion of the costs of the planned doubling of the Leamington - Coventry line and its electrification as part of the South/North Freight Spine Project sponsored by Network Rail and unrelated to the Station project have nevertheless been apportioned to the station project with due diligence by the county council failing to identify, highlight and reject it.

This is a potentially serious matter involving millions of pounds raised from council taxpayers. At this stage and in comparison to other similar ongoing projects I am unconvinced that the £12.1m cost can be correct.

Any day now council tax bills will start dropping through people’s doors informing them that the county Council is taking 1.9 per cent above inflation from them in council tax. A comprehensive and public explanation is needed urgently.

Fraser Pithie, Windy Arbour, Kenilworth