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Plans On Track For Site of New Rail Station

Support for a rail station by the tip in Kenilworth is set to get the approval of Warwick district councillors who have been studying local reaction to ideas put out to consultation.

Officers have recommended members pick the site at Pipers Lane, off Whitemoor Road, saying this is the better location of the two

Two polls in the town have shown 81 and 90 per cent support to link the largest town in Warwickshire without a station back to the rail network for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Residents were asked to choose between the town centre site where the old station used to be and where the tip is now.

The Lockhart Close site in the town centre site is more easily accessible, but has no car parking. The other site is a little more remote and is bigger with more parking and facilities, but has rallied opposition from residents of nearby Cherry Orchard.

The county council ran a public consultation and poll in April and that information has been summarised.

Warwick District Council meets on Monday and officers say the newer site is the best choice and are asking members to back their report. Then it goes to county council, as highways authority, which will decide what happens next.

Central Trains wants to run a new local service from Nottingham and Leicester through Warwickshire to Oxford. Virgin Cross Country is also interested in calling at Kenilworth.

Neither option is likely to offer direct rail links to London, forcing people to change at Coventry or Leamington.

The location of the station and the funding of the work – platforms, lighting, car park, ticket office and staffing – would fall on others, such as the county council, Railtrack and any European or Government funding on offer.

With the imminent opening at Warwick Parkway - offering a direct link to London with free parking and only four miles south of Kenilworth - some fear a Kenilworth local station could be a white elephant as rail companies fight over passengers.

John Rush, group manager for Warwickshire engineering design services, said of the survey analysis:

“The overwhelming majority of responses confirm support for a new station in Kenilworth. 

“However, the total number of responses represents only a small percentage of the Kenilworth population. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that the people of Kenilworth either support the provision of a station, or are indifferent to it.

“The large majority of respondents who support the station proposal prefer the Piper's Lane site. However, responses show that the issues of on-site parking is a significant one, and it may be fairer to conclude that the preferred site is one that caters for on-site parking.”

Members of Warwick District executive will meet on Tuesday and are expected to give support to a station in Kenilworth and back one of the sites, with officers saying Pipers Lane looking the best bet.

A report from senior officers said it would be easier to use the site by the tip, as the town centre option could end up slowing down the project and costing a lost of more money. It said:

“It is clear there is support for a station within Kenilworth, and that in a number of respects, the two sites are evenly matched.

“Clearly, however, the key difference is in the availability of car parking. Parking is seen as essential to the success of any scheme as evidenced by the results of the public consultation survey of potential users and from discussions with train operators.

“Car parking could be provided at Pipers Lane within land entirely owned by the county council, however it could not be provided at the old station site without further land acquisition.

“This would inevitably increase the costs of developing the station at this site above those currently anticipated. It would also delay any implementation of the proposal.”

Railtrack and rail companies back the scheme. Railtrack Midland director Richard Fearn said it is a case of ‘when’ and not ’if’ Kenilworth gets a station and he thinks it could open in 2002.

Much of the work behind the scenes has been initiated by Andy King MP (Lab, Rugby and Kenilworth).

He has held meetings with rail operators, Railtrack and local councils. He brought Virgin Rail boss Chris Green to Kenilworth to look at the sites.

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CWN / Politics / Warwick District Council / 08 Sep 00

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