Coventry and Warwickshire Rail Strategies

Snapshot

In recent years, Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council have been at the forefront of planning and investing in rail projects to meet local and regional economic goals. Together with the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, they commissioned SLC Rail to help them take this advantage forward and develop a Rail Implementation Strategy to shape the regional agenda and see them through the next Network Rail Control Period 6 (2019-2024) and past the introduction of HS2 in 2026.

Client Coventry City Council
Project Status Strategy Published Autumn 2015

In 2013, SLC Rail worked with Coventry City Council to develop the Coventry Rail Story, a planning document to shape Coventry’s rail development future. It enabled the city council to:

  • Communicate its rail ambitions effectively;
  • Advocate investment in Coventry’s economy;
  • Set out the high-level case for investment;
  • Raise awareness within the rail industry of the economic value and needs of Coventry;
  • Encourage private sector investment in rail; and
  • Provide a prospectus for investors to the Coventry economy.

It did this by establishing a high level output statement for the rail services and key investment needed to support economic growth.

Since Coventry and Warwickshire councils started focusing on rail projects as a means to underpin local economic growth, there have been significant developments nationally and regionally, as well as a large amount of rail planning activity, all of which are likely to have an impact on their ability to fund and deliver projects. In particular, the introduction of HS2 in 2026 could lead to significant changes in Coventry and the wider region, which currently benefit from frequent services on the West Coast Main Line.

The leaders of the LEP and the two councils were keen to ensure that their interests were properly represented in the various rail agendas, and so appointed SLC Rail to research, develop and negotiate a Rail Implementation Strategy that would serve the best interests of the region, while remaining consistent with the emerging plans of neighbouring regions.

SLC Rail focused on three key areas:

  • Assessing the implications of the LEP’s economic goals and regional development plans for transport and rail in particular.
  • Developing a number of different rail service and connectivity scenarios; using a sophisticated model, evaluating the Gross Value Added (GVA) and new jobs in each case. The model was developed by a partner, JMP Consultants, with input from experts at SLC Rail.
  • Engaging closely with the various rail planning processes, contributing to Network Rail planning sessions and discussing ideas with industry contacts at regional and national levels.

The Report

The strategy document sets out the plan to 2026, focusing on seven key areas:

  • When West Coast Main Line timetables are reworked under HS2, the plan sets out options for continuing fast connectivity with London, which is so economically important for Coventry.
  • New direct rail services are proposed between Coventry and Leicester to sustain and grow the significant economic interchange that exists between the two cities and to ease the worsening road congestion.
  • Further new stations and improved train services along the NUCKLE Corridor (Nuneaton-Coventry-Kenilworth-Leamington Spa) are discussed to support the economic regeneration of North Warwickshire.
  • Ongoing GVA and jobs growth for Coventry and Warwickshire is proposed by developing the region’s North-South corridor into a strategic part of the UK long distance rail network, connecting the Thames Valley to Yorkshire via Coventry.
  • New connectivity is considered, linking Birmingham, Coventry and Cambridge and key stations in-between, facilitated by the East West Rail project between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge.
  • A new parkway station is outlined to serve the proposed Rugby Radio Station development – a scheme with up to 6200 new homes, employment land and schools.
  • For HS2 services to be of direct benefit to the region, it will be necessary to secure agreement that services to the north will stop at Birmingham Interchange. There also needs to be commitment to make the interchange with classic rail services fast and convenient.

Further activity

The City Council has taken one of the major high-level outputs and findings – the regeneration of Coventry Station – and formed a partnership with Virgin Trains, Network Rail and the West Midlands Combined Authority (formerly Centro) to develop a comprehensive Masterplan for the station (see project profile).

"SLC Rail has provided outstanding very tailored advice and expertise to craft a clear strategic document that directly relates to our needs. They're not a standard 'off the shelf' consultancy and have what I suspect may be a unique ability to both explain the world of rail to the Council Members and business representatives, whilst also being able to draw on extensive rail industry contacts and talk 'rail' to them. They have provided Coventry with excellent value for money and a product that has done exactly what we needed."
- Mike Waters, Transportation Manager, Coventry City Council


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