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 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