THE FIRST train to stop at Kenilworth in nearly 50 years pulled up in the town on Saturday (October 4).
It signalled the start of the countdown to a new rail service to and from Kenilworth Rail Station as a test train was chartered along the Leamington to Coventry route to make sure the planned running times were on track.
MP Jeremy Wright and Warwickshire County Council’s transport spokesman Coun Peter Butlin, were joined by representatives from some of the other major partners involved including London Midland and SLC Rail as well as members of ASK (A Station for Kenilworth) and Solihull and Leamington Rail Users Association to mark the event at Leamington Rail Station.
The London Midland test train ran along the route as if Kenilworth Rail Station existed, stopping next to the station site before proceeding to Coventry. Once at Coventry, the train shunted into the sidings before making the return journey to Leamington.
The Department for Transport’s New Station Fund is contributing £5 million to the total £12 million cost of the Kenilworth Station project, with the remainder of the funding being provided by local transport bodies and Warwickshire County Council.
Construction work on the new rail station, which will be located on the site of the former station, will begin in summer next year and is set to open in December 2016, providing a new service between Leamington and Coventry.
Mr Wright said: “I have long campaigned for Kenilworth to have a station again, which will increase the travel options for the town’s residents and the flow of customers for its businesses.
“Getting the necessary funding was crucial, but steps like the one we witnessed on Saturday show that, after decades of trying to secure a station for Kenilworth, the project is now really happening.”
Coun Butlin added the test train run was a real milestone in the journey towards Kenilworth Rail Station becoming a reality.
He added: “The construction of the station and the resulting new train service will not only improve local public transport but will also provide a link to rail services beyond the Coventry and Warwickshire sub-region, giving improved access to the economies of London and Birmingham while boosting our own local economy and tourism.”
The new station – replacing the town’s former station which closed in 1965 – will also include a ticket office, 90-space car park and cycle parking.