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Council Wants A Signal On Central Rail Route

New plans should be produced to show the route of a proposed new railway passing thorough east Warwickshire, say Rugby councillors.

They have consistently opposed the plan by Central Railway to reopen the line just east of the town centre, as part of freight link from the Channel Tunnel to the Midlands.

With the later intervention of Chiltern Railways, it could see passenger services running down the line that closed in the 1960s.

That saw the end of local rail links with Lutterworth and Woodford Halse plus direct services north to Leicester, Sheffield, Nottingham, and south to Aylesbury and London Marylebone.

Chiltern runs passenger services on the southern stretch of the former Central Railway from London into Buckinghamshire, and wants to extend these once more to Rugby and Leicester.

And there are fresh rumblings this week on plans to open a line west of the town, with a dedicated freight link into the Rugby Cement plan on the former Rugby to Leamington line.

Both schemes have been bubbling away for years, but seem to be coming to a head.

Rugby Borough Council owns virtually all of the former Great Central Railway within its boundary, from Willoughby in the south, through the town, up to Newton in the north.

It bought the former line for just £5 from British Rail and it is now the largest park in the borough.

Few doubt that a handful of dog walkers and nature lovers could stop the reopening of the strategic rail line, but environmental reasons are being used to try and block the scheme that attracted minimal support when it went to Parliament a few years back.

Revised plans, and the surprise addition of a rival rail company wanting to offer passenger services, means this scheme is now more viable, but still faces massive local opposition.

Rugby Borough Council meets again on Tuesday to discuss the revived plan, where Central Railway has proposed three routes – one passing through the town, and the others skirting out towards the DIRFT terminal at Crick and then shadowing the M1 into Leicestershire avoiding the town altogether.

Not surprisingly, these alternate routes have attracted complaints from villagers whose homes are close to these proposals.

And opponents claim there is now blight along all three lines, and a preferred route needs to be clarified.

Cllr James Shera, who speaks for the council as borough development portfolio holder said the council has not and will not change its mind on this project if it means pushing trains close to housing estates in the town.

The line passes close to long-established houses in the Southfields area and new homes in Brownsover East, built in the 1990s.

Cllr Shera said:

“Central Railway has been told again that this council is completely opposed to the idea of routing a new railway through the town on the route of the former Great Central Railway, mainly because of potential environmental issues.

“But it has never opposed the idea of a new railway in principle. We all want to see more freight going by rail and an extra passenger line could be very good for Rugby.

“Unlike the 1991 proposal, this time Central Railway has indicated that a new railway line could bypass Rugby to the east but it has not proposed any specific route and there could still be some progress with this – although we will not know whether or not this is the case until it some up with a definite proposal.

“Meanwhile, we have kept in touch with neighbouring councils on this project and will continue to do so in order to work together and avoid potential problems.

“While the council has not proposed any alternative routes east of Rugby, it has continued to press Central Railway for more details information ever since it resurrected the proposal.

“As the company is not providing this information, we will be discuss the best way forward and the action we can take ourselves at the next meeting of the Borough Development Panel on Tuesday.”


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CWN / Politics / Rugby Borough Council / 22 Sep 00

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