The first train to arrive at the newly-opened Kenilworth Station alighted this morning at 6.15 and around 100 local people were among those boarding the service, despite the early hour, Kenilworth’s first train service since the mid-1960s on Monday (30 April).
Passengers using the new station, built on the site of the town’s former station, were the first to benefit from the new hourly service between Coventry and Leamington Spa, operated by West Midlands Railway, opening up new leisure, training and employment opportunities.
Among the crowd was Riley Goult and sister Isabella who joined their parents to travel to Coventry and back before heading off to school. Riley has his eyes set on a longer journey in the future. He said
“I want to get the train to Coventry and then go to London and Paris.” When asked how excited he was to have the station so close to his home, Riley simply said. “Very excited.”
The excitement was not confined to the youngest traveller. Sandra Cousins had caught the last train out of Kenilworth in 1965. Arriving at the station at 5.30, making sure she was there for when the first train arrived, Sandra explained what it meant to the town having the station back.
“I was so excited when I moved back to Kenilworth seven years ago and heard that the station was reopening. I’m so excited to be on the first train.”
The Kenilworth Station project has been funded by the Government’s Local Growth Fund through Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Warwickshire County Council, and £4.9m from the Department for Transport’s New Stations Fund. It is part of a major rail investment scheme to boost economic regeneration between Nuneaton and Leamington Spa and support sustainable travel, including more reliable signalling between Coventry and Nuneaton, and new stations at Bermuda Park and Coventry Arena.
The station was designed in a partnership between Warwickshire County Council and the local train operator following consultation with local residents. It will feature an on-site retail unit offering a full range of tickets for travel across the UK, rail travel advice and a community café will open for business.
Passengers will also benefit from a covered cycle parking and a ticket vending machine. The station is fully accessible, with step-free access throughout, thanks to lifts and footbridge. It also has a new 72 space car park.
The design has embraced the history of the site, with two stained glass windows and a vintage sign salvaged from the original station building, demolished in the 1980s. These features were donated by Kenilworth residents and have contributed to the heritage feel of the station, this having been requested by the local community.
Monica Fogarty, Joint Managing Director of Warwickshire County Council, said:
“Now that the station has opened, it is time to celebrate the completion of a very complex project and for the town of Kenilworth to celebrate that once again it has got a rail station. This will provide a real boon for the local economy, bringing visitors to the town and also giving Kenilworth residents the opportunity to travel across Warwickshire without having to get in the car.
“My heartfelt thanks go to all the people of Kenilworth who have shown such patience while the work was being carried out. I am delighted to have seen so many people here this morning and to see and hear what it means to them.”
Richard Brooks, customer experience director for West Midlands Railway, said “This additional service between Coventry and Leamington Spa, calling at Kenilworth, is a great example of how West Midlands Railway is helping to boost the local economy, opening up new journey opportunities, linking people and places across the region.”
Martin Frobisher, route managing director for Network Rail, said: “Kenilworth station is a fantastic addition to the rail network. It will provide local people with regular services to Coventry and Leamington Spa and connections with services across Britain.
“The station supports our Railway Upgrade Plan and is an example of how third party investment can support economic growth while providing a better railway for passengers.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are currently investing in the most significant upgrade to our railways since Victorian times with faster, more comfortable trains and a greater number of services.
“Our New Stations Fund has provided £4.9 million to reopen Kenilworth station which has been closed for more than fifty years, to offer a vital service for passengers. Stations like Kenilworth have the potential to create jobs, connect communities and grow the vital economy here in the West Midlands”