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The Next Train Calling At Rugby... Could Be Chiltern

Surprise has been the main reaction to a scheme by a railway company to open a disused rail line through from east Warwickshire to London for passenger services.

An unrelated project to use most of the old Great Central Railway for freight has been known about for some time, and met fierce opposition, as it would pass through several town estates.

But the news that a rail company, that currently runs no services to Rugby, wants to expand its empire with at least 50 miles of new track has caught the town unaware.

The freight scheme – that failed in Parliament four years ago but has been resurrected - would use big heavy noisy trains, with little benefit to townspeople.

But the Chiltern project announced yesterday would at least bring new passenger services and a brand new rail station just outside the town by the M1/M6 junction. 

Rugby MP Andy King said: 

“This has come like a bolt out of the blue. 

“I will be contacting Chiltern Railways urgently to find out more about this. No one has said anything to me at all.

“The Central Railway scheme was unpopular because it was a speculative project and it would have brought heavy trains close to people’s homes. 

“There would be an affect on businesses and St Andrew’s Primary School which is right next to the line.

“It really is too early to say whether I could support this, but I know what the people of Rugby thought of the other scheme.”

Cllr Hazel Bell, chairman of the Rugby Borough Council planning committee, agreed she could not make up her mind about the scheme with so few detail. She said: 

“I would want to know if it was going to go through Rugby, or round the town on a diversion.

“A lot of people are already worried about the line reopening, and think their homes have been blighted by the Great Central project.

“There are businesses in Butlers Leap and Great Central Way, and what would happen to them? 

“I can see the advantage of more train services and all the councils are establishing new transport schemes, but I do not know if Rugby needs these extra trains.”

Sara Cruz, spokesman for Chiltern Railways said:

"I am afraid that all of the plans talked about in yesterday's release are in very early stages, therefore we are in no position to disclose further information."

The freight project is unpopular, but most take comfort from the fact the last scheme was killed off and the company appears to be in no rush this time to get the project through Parliament.

Currently, there are three main operators running passenger services to Rugby station:

  • Virgin offering Intercity Services to London Euston (journey time average about 65 minutes) and the North West;

  • Silverlink offering local services calling at most towns towards London (average journey time 90 minutes), and also to Coventry and Birmingham;

  • Connex offering an hourly service to stations in West London, heading on to Gatwick Airport and Brighton.

There are also a handful of local service offered by Central Trains, mainly along the Trent Valley Line to Nuneaton, Tamworth and Lichfield.

The Chiltern Service would use the old Great Central Railway (open 1899 to 1969) that would run through Woodford Halse and Brackley and join the existing line, which is in use south of Aylesbury which runs via Amersham to London Marylebone station.

The company wants to build a parkway station, aimed at getting long distance travelling out of their cars. Chiltern is currently finishing off a parkway station at Warwick, close to another motorway junction.

The former Great Central Railway company had its own separate station, and the Chiltern plans would use its own station on a new site just north of the town, which would be convenient for the northern parts of Rugby and other people with easy access to the M1 and M6.

The company announced the project yesterday as part of its £370 million investment in railways, when it won a 20-year franchise to operate trains along the M40 corridor.


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CWN / BusinessChiltern Railways  / 11 Aug 00

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