The construction and opening of Kenilworth Station is unlikely to be finished by the target completion date of December 2016, according to Warwickshire County Councillor John Whitehouse.
It is unknown exactly when the construction is expected to be completed by, although an update on the fate of the station should be announced by Warwickshire County Council (WCC) within the coming weeks.
Cllr Whitehouse pointed to the lack of available rolling stock across the country and delays in the connection of the Kenilworth line to Platform four of Leamington train station by Network Rail as the reasons for the likely delay of completion.
He said: “I think finishing the station by December 2016 is now inconceivable. When planning a project you have to make certain assumptions based on past experience.”
Cllr Whitehouse was referring to the construction of Stratford Parkway train station in 2013, which had made certain assumptions about how much rolling stock was available for train operators to use.
Similar assumptions were made when plans were drawn up for Kenilworth station, but the actual amount of rolling stock available was far less than first anticipated.
I think finishing the station by December 2016 is now inconceivable.Cllr John Whitehouse
This, along with the delays in Leamington has meant construction work has not started yet, despite the station’s website saying work would start in late 2015.
WCC had previously made assurances that the station would be completed and operational by December 2016 after Network Rail announced that plans to modernise the line would take longer than planned back in June 2015.
These included plans to electrify the line as part of a nationwide improvement scheme from the Government to create a more efficient service, and to install twin tracks all the way along the line through Kenilworth.
When the budget for these improvements was found to have been underestimated, Network Rail admitted it had been ‘overly optimistic’ about the plans, and that the targets it set were ‘highly ambitious.’
Despite this admission, WCC still said the station would be open at the end of 2016 with an hourly diesel service between Leamington and Coventry stopping at the station.
The original Kenilworth station was opened in 1844. It was then closed in 1965 as part of the Beeching cuts, which saw hundreds of stations in the UK close due to stiff competition from road transport.
Since that time, WCC claimed that Kenilworth needed the station to be reopened because the town’s population has increased by 50 per cent, and its location in the ‘North-South corridor’ between Nuneaton and Leamington means it sees a high amount of congestion. Consultation of residents showed 81 per cent of reposndents supported the station in principle.
Planning permission to start work on reopening the station was granted in 2011, but funding was initially refused by WCC.
In 2013, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced a new fund to construct or renovate stations, and WCC decided to apply for a £5 million grant. The grant was awarded in June 2013, with the total cost of the project being £12.1 million.