AN INQUIRY into the delays opening Kenilworth Station has opened.
A cross-party panel of councillors from Warwickshire County County and Kenilworth Town Council will oversee the review, advised by an expert from the rail industry.
The first train was expected at the town’s new £13.6million station last December, but just days before the scheduled opening the Department for Transport (DfT) said no train or drivers would be available until February to operate a service on the line running between Leamington and Coventry.
There was a further delay as the county council prepared a safety report for the rail regulator at the Office for Road and Rail before a train finally left the station with paying passengers on board on April 30.
The purpose of which is to make recommendations on developing future rail projects, particularly with regard to estimating timescales, something which independent chair John Bridgeman says is a complex process.
Mr Bridgeman, one of the country’s most experienced figures in public interest inquiries in both the public and private sectors, said: “Since the Beeching Report lead to the closure of so many stations across the UK, more than 160 have re-opened. Without exception, these have encountered difficulties.
“It is a complex process to reopen a station and reports that have followed the many re-openings to date would suggest that it is a thankless task. Local authorities have to show real determination not to be deterred by the obstacles and complexity that they encounter.”
The review will bring together all of the partners involved in the delivery of the station. They will be asked to record their own involvement so the panel can identify at which stages of the project delays occurred and what caused them.
County council’s leader Izzi Seccombe said: “We recognise that, as the authority which lead on the construction of the new station at Kenilworth, we have to take on the chin any criticism of the project – in this instance, that is of course people’s frustrations at the delay in completion.
“The county council, and our partners in the rail industry, have an ambitious programme for developing the county’s transport infrastructure. We must take whatever learning we can from the building of Kenilworth Station so this independent review is looking at everything, good and bad, that will help us to deliver future projects.
“John Bridgeman’s status in reviewing public projects means that we have someone who is among the best in the trade and we are sure that he will prepare a very thorough, independent report that will serve us well in future projects.”
The public will also have a chance to comment during the review.
The new station, built on the site of the town’s former station, offers an hourly service between Coventry and Leamington, operated by West Midlands Railway.
The Station Road station was funded by Government’s Local Growth Fund through Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Warwickshire County Council, and the Department for Transport’s New Stations Fund.