Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP, visited the site of the new Kenilworth Rail Station this morning (Monday 23 February) to see for himself the benefits that rail investment is bringing to Warwickshire.
The Minister was met by Jeremy Wright MP for Kenilworth, Warwickshire County Council’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Alan Cockburn, and Mayor of Kenilworth, Cllr John Cooke.
They gave the Minister a tour of the site and spoke to him about the project to construct the new £12 million station, for which the Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded nearly £5 million to Warwickshire County Council towards the cost of construction, following a successful bid to the New Stations Fund. It’s part of £38 billion being invested to modernise the UK’s railways over the next few years.
The Minister visited Kenilworth in June 2013 to announce the funding, following a long term campaign by Warwickshire County Council and Kenilworth MP Jeremy Wright.
The project is being managed by Warwickshire County Council and SLC Rail. Demolition work on the site will begin shortly, with construction due to start early next year for a planned opening of the station in December 2016.
The building of Kenilworth Rail Station is part of a major rail enhancement scheme designed to encourage economic regeneration between Nuneaton and Leamington Spa. A new rail passenger service from Coventry to Leamington will mean that Kenilworth passengers will be able to access a wide number of destinations with just one change.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We are investing in record amounts in transforming the UK’s rail network, and projects like the new station at Kenilworth make a real difference to passengers. They connect communities, attract visitors and secure economic growth.
“Funding projects like this is at the heart of our long-term economic plan, and I am looking forward to this work getting underway.”
Jeremy Wright MP for Kenilworth said: “Many of us have campaigned for a long time to bring a station back to Kenilworth. I am grateful to the Secretary of State for his support for the project, which he has reinforced by his visit today. This new station will be good news for Kenilworth residents and for Kenilworth businesses, as it brings visitors to the town.”
Councillor Alan Cockburn, Deputy Leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “I was delighted to welcome the Minister to Kenilworth so he could see for himself our plans to construct the new rail station, which will be a great asset for the people and businesses of the town.
“Improving transport infrastructure in the county is a key priority for Warwickshire County Council and we’re extremely pleased that the Department of Transport invested in this project.
“It is an indication of their confidence in Warwickshire County Council and the new station will bring numerous benefits to Kenilworth, attracting visitors and improving the local economy, while enabling people living in the town to reach a wide range of destinations by train within just one change.”
Councillor John Cooke, Mayor of Kenilworth, said: “As the largest town in the country without a rail link, Kenilworth residents are delighted to welcome the building of a new station exactly 50 years after the closure of the previous one.”
The new station site at Priory Road was originally used as a railway station from 1844 to 1965. However, the station was closed to both goods and passenger traffic in 1965. The original station building was demolished a number of years after the station closed.
The proposed new station design, which includes a main station building and footbridge, has been designed in a ‘heritage’ style, incorporating design elements from the original station, following a public vote that overwhelmingly opted for that style.
It is anticipated that Kenilworth will be a town centre ‘destination’ station, encouraging tourists and retail customers into town, while also providing a new community facility with good links to other transport services and on-site facilities.
Warwickshire County Council has a strong record of rail investment, with other current projects including the building of a new station at Bermuda Park in Nuneaton. Other recent projects include the opening of the £6.9 million Stratford Parkway Rail Station in 2013.