Posted 6th December 2017 | 2 Comments

Kenilworth station delay is ‘beyond disappointing’

A WAR of words has broken out between the Department for Transport and a county council over a further delay to opening a new station in the West Midlands.

Kenilworth in Warwickshire should have welcomed its first trains this weekend with the launch of new timetables, but it has emerged that trains will not be able to call before February.

Warwickshire County Council said the further delay to the scheme was ‘beyond disappointing’, and that it had ‘worked round the clock’ to meet this weekend’s deadline.

A fully accessible bridge with lifts had been lifted into position over the track in late July this year, when Cllr Jeff Clarke, Warwickshire’s portfolio holder for the environment, had said: “Excitement is growing in Kenilworth as we are now seeing visible signs of the station after months of preparatory work. Having the bridge in is a real landmark and a visible sign that the station is on its way.”

After the news of a further delay broke, WCC joint managing director Monica Fogarty said: “The Department is unable to supply the train and drivers in order to meet the December opening date, and this is beyond disappointing for the people of Kenilworth.

“I want Kenilworth to know that your council, county councillors and MP have all worked until the last minute to try to persuade the DfT to deliver and it is such a shame that this has not proved possible.”

Ms Fogarty told the Kenilworth Weekly News that she finally ‘threw in the towel’ on 1 December. She added: “Up until that week, it was still doable. When we got to last week, we thought we’ve got to let people know what’s happening.”

The estimated cost in 2015 when work started on the station site was £11.3 million, but it has since risen to £13.6 million.

The Department for Transport has not proved to be willing to take the blame for the further postponement.

It said it was ‘disappointed’ over the council’s stance, adding: “The station was originally supposed to open many months ago, and the council and its contractors again appear to have failed to meet a revised delivery date to get the station ready for service.”

Agreements with Network Rail and CrossCountry are still outstanding, and the DfT said there continued to be ‘issues’ with other matters such as quality sign-off, regulatory approvals and safety assessments. The timetable has also yet to be agreed.

Fraser Pithie is a former county councillor who lives in the town, and he has dubbed the project a ‘comedy of errors’.

In a letter to the MP for Kenilworth and Southam, Conservative Jeremy Wright, he said: “The repeated delays affecting the scheme effectively gave Warwickshire CC and their project management consultants more time to arrange, deliver and get sign off from Network Rail, ORR, the DfT and to get a train operator ready so as to enable a train service to operate from the planned date of 10 December. Despite the extended period Warwickshire still failed and now seek to blame the DfT.”

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Mike Stone, Crewe

    Someone is lying. London Northwestern booklet 1 clearly states opening 2018, and obviously went to press prior to 1 December.

  • Steve Bacon, Royal Wootton Bassett

    As a long-distance passenger I'm disappointed about the delay.

    I sometimes use the hourly XC service between Coventry and Oxford, but the southbound service leaves Coventry a couple of minutes before the train from Northampton so I have a very long wait until the next one.

    A half-hourly stopping service to Leamington Spa would really plug the gap - and relieve the gross overcrowding on the XC trains at Coventry.