WATCH: First train in 53 years finally serves Kenilworth Station
The 53-year wait for a train service in Kenilworth is finally over as the first train rolled into the town's newly-opened station this morning (Monday April 30).
Dozens of passengers got up bright and early to catch the 6.16am train from Kenilworth heading to Coventry.
And despite several delays to the project, there were no hiccups this morning as the train arrived on time.
It took passengers to Coventry in a brisk eight-minute journey.
Kenilworth's mayor Cllr Kate Dickson said: "We're absolutely delighted that the station's finally open.
"It's going to make it much easier to access Kenilworth, and it's going to mean we can stop some of the traffic on the road.
"It's something that we've been waiting for for a very long time. I'm really excited that this is happening.
"It's been a shame that we've had to wait so long. But I know of a huge amount of people that are planning to use this as a regular part of their journey to work and for leisure."
The Â£13.6 million project to build the station has been managed by Warwickshire County Council, who have come in for criticism over the many delays.
Monica Fogarty, joint managing director of the county council, said: "It's a great economic boon to the town. For people travelling in and out of work it will be fantastic. It means they can leave their cars at home, and residents in Kenilworth can walk to the station."
When asked whether the station will be worth it, she said: "Absolutely. You've only got to look at the crowds here this morning to see the strength of feeling in Kenilworth. People are desperate for the station and are so pleased to finally have it here.
"It is on budget but it is well over time, I'll be the first to admit that. There have been difficulties and we're going to look into the causes of those. But today is a positive event and we're going to look forward."
But Ms Fogarty refused to answer a question on how much the county council is set to pay station operators West Midlands Trains in a one-off fee as part of the two parties' negotiations, saying the fee is 'commercially sensitive'.
The station will take passengers between Leamington and Coventry, with a train in each direction every hour.
The station and service is run by West Midlands Railway, part of West Midlands Trains.
Francis Thomas, head of corporate affairs at West Midlands Trains, said the company was thinking about expanding the service. He said a faster two-car train was being considered for use in December.
He said: "Later in the year we hope to extend the service all the way through to Nuneaton. It's a great day for the town and a great day for railways. We like to see new life going into the railways, and that's what we're seeing today.
"Demand for railway services is massive in our region - the region is bucking the national trend. We're very confident that people want to use our service."
Mr Thomas also would not be drawn on the one-off fee that the county council is paying them, also claiming the information is 'commercially sensitive'.