It became the first rail company to have its
franchise renewed this morning. It beat off a bid to run services
between Birmingham Snow Hill and London Marylebone, that pass through
And the company set out a list of priorities and
new schemes, the most ambitious of which is new line from London to a
major parkway station three miles north of Rugby at a motorway
Chiltern operates trains on the Marylebone to
Aylesbury line, which uses the bottom 40 miles of the old Central
Railway. The next section heading north through Buckinghamshire,
Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire currently has stood
derelict for 40 years.
Chiltern Railways said today:
“Looking further ahead, and unrelated to the
Central Railway proposal, we envisage the reopening of the the
railway north from Aylesbury for passengers to a major parkway
station on the M1 and M6 in Leicestershire, and to Leicester
Central Railway, an unrelated speculative company
has made an unsuccessful bid to open the line for freight traffic to
get lorries off the road, and is about to formally submit new plans.
The rail line was opened in 1899. Uniquely its
bridges were raised so that one day it would be able to take trains
with lorries on them and head for the Channel Tunnel. Bridges on other
rail lines are too low to allow this piggy-back method of transport.
But the idea was so ahead of its time - and it
was lost in the Beeching cuts, long before the Channel Tunnel opened.
The line closed progressive in the 1960s and the final local services
between Rugby, Leicester and Nottingham withdrawn in 1969.
The Central rail line takes a very rural route
from Aylesbury thought Brackley and Woodford Halse, and into
Warwickshire by the former station at Willoughby then into Rugby
running along Percival Road, to the old station on Hillmorton Road.
It continues north along Slade Road and crosses
the Avon Valley into Brownsover, but the half-mile aqueduct is long
gone. The line would then cut off the Avon Park (Brownsover East)
development where every street is named after a town on the old
The line leaves town towards Newton and crosses
the M1/M6 area at Shawell where a new parkway station would be constructed.
The railway, A426 and M1 then share a corridor towards Lutterworth and
All of the line in Rugby Borough is owned by the
council, which bought the majority of it for £5 and turned in into
the largest park in the area.
The council has been resolutely opposed to the
reopening of the line for the freight scheme.
The project has been very unpopular in the town
because of the perceived noise and disturbance from half-mile long
freight trains, particularly where it passes homes that have been
built in recent years.
The first bid to run a new rail line from
Marylebone to the M1-M6 at Shawell (exactly the same length of line as
Chiltern now proposes) was rejected in Parliament.
The latest freight plans, which will also have to
go to Parliament, makes some changes and even propose a massive
diversion around Rugby, passing through the Radio Station site east of
Hillmorton as one way of overcoming local objections.
Great Central Railway had its own station in Hillmorton Road and its
line did not run into Rugby Midland station in Murray Road. The lines
cross at the Birdcage Bridge, close to Abbey Street.
[10 AUG 00] CHILTERN
RAILWAYS TO RIDE AGAIN