Rail Industry Focus

01.11.14

Construction work finally underway on NUCKLE

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Oct/Nov 2014

Ian Walters, managing director of SLC Rail, discusses the latest developments on the long-awaited Coventry to Nuneaton rail upgrade.

Construction work on the long-awaited Coventry to Nuneaton rail upgrade is finally underway, with two new stations on the line and platform extensions at Bedworth to be delivered by May 2015.

The initial work on the NUCKLE (Nuneaton, Coventry, Kenilworth and Leamington Spa) project, phase 1 of which is between Nuneaton and Coventry, has been in the pipeline for 10 years, and should boost the local economy and benefit the 10,000 residents in the local catchment area.

The new stations at Bermuda Park and Coventry Arena form part of a £13.6m line upgrade. The Department for Transport (DfT) is funding up to £4.75m of the scheme, with public transport co-ordinator Centro, the European Regional Development Fund, Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council funding the rest.

Economic boost

Phase 1 will connect Nuneaton to the Arena and improve travel links to major new developments along the line.

Ian Walters, managing director of SLC Rail, appointed to oversee delivery of the upgrade, told RTM: “The concept of NUCKLE is to provide increased mobility, providing greater accessibility to the railway and connecting people to jobs, including the new Friargate development around Coventry station, and the 15,000 new jobs it is generating.”

Work underway

Civils contractor Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd has started work at both stations.

“At Coventry Arena the site is already established and mobilised, Buckingham has done all the clearance works and started testing piling locations; piling for the platforms (six-car and three-car platforms) will start soon. Coventry Arena is due to finish towards the end of April, in time for the May timetable change,” said Walters.

“With regards to Bermuda Park (three-car platforms) we’ve just had the ‘reserved matters’ for a temporary haul road agreed from Coventry Road; this will be constructed to provide access to the site from the east.

“Buckingham has started work on that and once it is constructed, materials will be brought to site and they will start piling work there as well. Bermuda works are programmed after Coventry Arena station at the minute, but it will catch up as there isn’t quite as much platform to be built once they get on site. Again, that is due to finish around the end of April in time for May.”

The new station at Bermuda Park will have two platforms, waiting shelters, stairs and ramps, ticket machine, CCTV, cycle parking and 30 car park spaces.

In early October, rail minister Claire Perry helped push the first spade into the ground at the site of the Bermuda Park station, marking the start of construction work.

She called the new station “crucial” and said: “It is so great to see this long-awaited project finally get going.”

The other part of the initial works package for phase 1 is extending the platforms at Bedworth (to three-car platforms). This work will be finished by the end of March, and they should be taken into use around mid-April 2015.

Moving forward

Unfortunately, due to the scarcity of diesel rolling stock within the West Midlands franchise, and the wider market, the initially proposed increase in train services will not be possible until December 2017, when electrification projects allow a cascade of stock (provided they keep to their programmes).

Once the initial stations works for phase 1 are complete, phase 2 of NUCKLE (between Coventry and Leamington Spa and including a new station at Kenilworth) and the second package of work for phase 1 should both be done by December 2016.

Walters told RTM: “We have been asked by the DfT to explore whether there might be positive synergies from delivering both to the same timescale.

“The second package of phase 1 involves track and signalling works, and a new bay platform at Coventry (four-car platform) will be delivered at the same time. And that has to be the case, because a new freight loop is required, which addresses potential lost capacity in Coventry yard. It is required to achieve track curvature into the new bay platform at Coventry. It won’t necessarily be one contractor, because these are very different disciplines, but it will be delivered as one scheme.

“Phase 2 involves delivering a new station at Kenilworth, and track and signalling works at Leamington Spa that are required to introduce the train service. Phase 2 is a standalone scheme from phase 1, albeit also delivered in packages.”

Marcus Jones, MP for Nuneaton, said the project will “transform” the rail link between Nuneaton and Coventry.

The long-term vision is a West to East Midlands connection. “That’s what NUCKLE phases 3 and 4 will seek to achieve – increasing connectivity across the Midlands,” Walters concluded.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

Comments

Graham Nalty   19/12/2014 at 16:35

Very good news that this work is going ahead. Let us hope this will be followed by a new connection under the West Coast main line so that through trains from Coventry to Leicester and Nottingham can return.

Lesf   25/12/2014 at 00:14

Good news indeed, but the grade separation that will be needed at Coventry when the Electric Spine is built does not need to be under WCML with the disruption that would cause, but can be a flyover entirely on rail land and doesn't need any reduction of services.

Nonsuchmike   24/04/2015 at 13:27

Surely, as one of the top 20 track improvements/ reinstatements needed in the whole of the UK, this should be priority AAA. Excuses like lack of diesels are what they are: excuses, not reasons, for lack of proceeding tout de suite. Where does this joined up thinking malfunction come from? My suspicion is lack of money and ambition from central government, Network Rail and the TOCs. Certainly not the public and the Local Authorities.

RTM   24/04/2015 at 13:44

Hi Mike, we have an update on NUCKLE in the latest RTM (April/May 2015) which you might be interested to read! Free subscriptions at the moment if you don't get the print edition.

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