Coventry–Leamington line

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Coventry to Leamington Line
Cross Country voyager Old Milverton (27 (31254729914).jpg
A CrossCountry Voyager service on the line at Milverton.
System National Rail
Status Operational
Locale West Midlands (region)
Termini Coventry
Leamington Spa
Opened 1851
Owner Network Rail
Rolling stock
Number of tracks 1-2
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Route map

Berkswell Loop
Gibbet Hill Junction
Kenilworth Junction
Milverton Junction
Warwick (Milverton)
Leamington Spa General
Leamington Spa (Avenue)

The Coventry to Leamington Line is a railway line linking the city of Coventry with the town of Leamington Spa. The line was opened in 1844 by the London and Birmingham Railway, initially only as far as Milverton. The line was extended to Leamington Spa Avenue in 1851. A connecting line to Berkswell opened in 1884.

Late in the 19th century most of the route was doubled to increase capacity. Only a small section just outside Kenilworth, at Gibbet Hill, remained single track.


In 1839 an independent company the Warwick and Leamington Union Railway submitted plans for a new line connecting Leamington with the London and Birmingham Railway (L&BR) at Coventry, and the plans were approved by an Act of Parliament in 1842. The following year, before the line was built the Warwick and Leamington Union Railway was purchased by the L&BR, which itself became part of the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) three years later.[1]

The line was opened on 9 December 1844 from Coventry via Kenilworth to the original terminus at what was then known as Leamington station, but later became known (after numerous name changes) as Warwick (Milverton) railway station. The Milverton terminus was a mile from Leamington town centre, and so in 1851 the line was extended closer to the town centre and a new station opened in 1854 at Leamington Spa (Avenue) railway station, which was alongside the rival Great Western Railway (GWR) station at Leamington. Avenue station also served the now closed branch lines to Rugby and later to Weedon.[1]

Originally built as a single track line, the route between Leamington and Kenilworth was widened to double track in 1884, and the stations at Milverton and Kenilworth were rebuilt, however the section from Kenilworth Junction to Gibbet Hill Junction, just south of Coventry remained single track. At the same time a new cut-off line known as the Berkswell Loop was opened from Kenilworth to Berkswell on the Coventry-Birmingham line. This line avoided Coventry, and allowed the LNWR to introduce a direct Leamington to Birmingham service.[1]

The line came under the management of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) in 1923, and later British Railways in 1948. In the early 1960s, the line, along with the Leamington-Rugby line was heavily used as a diversionary route while the West Coast Main Line was being electrified. However the local passenger service was withdrawn on 18 January 1965 as a result of the Beeching Axe, and Kenilworth, Milverton and Avenue stations were closed. With Avenue station closed, a new connection was built the same year connecting the line to the former GWR Leamington station, previously only a siding had connected the former LNWR and GWR lines at Leamington. The Berkswell Loop was closed on 17 January 1969 after a freight train derailed, and the track was lifted the following year. In 1972 British Rail singled much of the line, but retained some double track to form a passing loop at Kenilworth.[1]

In May 1977 British Rail resumed passenger services over the line: This was due largely to the opening of Birmingham International station in 1976 between Birmingham and Coventry, which caused British Rail to re-route many of their Birmingham to Oxford, Paddington and south-coast trains via Coventry in order to serve the new station. However none of the intermediate stations were reopened.[1]

In August 2007 Network Rail reinstated 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of double track at the northern end of the line from Park Junction (now removed) to Gibbet Hill Junction in order to increase capacity.[2]

Electrification proposal[edit]

Previously, in 1977 the Parliamentary Select Committee on Nationalised Industries recommended considering electrification of more of Britain's rail network, and by 1979 BR presented a range of options to electrifying numerous routes by 2000.[3] Some of these options included the Coventry to Leamington line as part of a scheme to electrify the Cherwell Valley Line and the Banbury — Birmingham section of what is now the Chiltern Main Line.[4] Under the 1979–90 Conservative governments that succeeded the 1976–79 Labour government the proposal was not implemented.

Kenilworth station re-opening[edit]

In 2013 funding was approved to rebuild and reopen Kenilworth railway station.[5] The line was also scheduled to be re-doubled from Milverton Junction to Kenilworth and electrified as part of the Electric Spine project.[6] Although these plans were put on hold by Network Rail in 2016, and no date has since been given for completion of this work.[7][8]

Construction of the new station at Kenilworth began in July 2016,[9] The opening date was originally meant to be August 2017,[10] although this was repeatedly postponed, with a later date being announced as February 2018.[11] It finally opened on 30 April 2018.[12] A new hourly service from Leamington Spa to Coventry calls at Kenilworth, operated by West Midlands Trains.[13]

The line today[edit]

Today most of the line is single track which limits the number of services using it. What remains of double track includes a passing loop at Kenilworth, and the lines out from Coventry and Leamington Spa to Gibbet Hill Junction and Milverton respectively.

As of May 2018 the line is used by the hourly West Midlands Trains shuttle service between Coventry and Leamington, which calls at Kenilworth, and the hourly CrossCountry service from Manchester Piccadilly to Bournemouth which calls at Coventry and Leamington only.[14] It is also regularly used by freight trains; mostly container trains operated by Freightliner from the Port of Southampton to the Midlands or North of England via Coventry and Nuneaton. In 2009 30 such trains used the line daily.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Hurst, Geoffrey (1993). LNWR Branch Lines of West Leicestershire & East Warwickshire (First ed.). Milepost Publications. pp. 44–59. ISBN 0-947796-16-9. 
  2. ^ "£45M COVENTRY RESIGNALLING COMPLETED". Network Rail. 29 August 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2018. 
  3. ^ Anonymous 1979, pp. 0–2.
  4. ^ Anonymous 1979, p. 8.
  5. ^ "Funding pledge for Kenilworth railway station". Global Rail News. Rail Media. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  6. ^ Draft CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan (PDF) (Report). Network Rail. 18 December 2013. p. 44. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "KENILWORTH APPROACHES DECEMBER DEADLINE". Railway magazine. Retrieved 21 January 2018. 
  8. ^ "Kenilworth Station plans dealt a blow". Kenilworth Weekly News. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2018. 
  9. ^ "Work on Kenilworth Station officially begun". Kenilworth Weekly News. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 30 July 2016. 
  10. ^ "Kenilworth Station opening delayed until December 2017". Kenilworth Weekly News. 5 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  11. ^ "'No trains' at Kenilworth's new railway station 'until 2018'". BBC News. 5 December 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017. 
  12. ^ "Kenilworth station is finally set to open next Monday". Coventry Observer. 23 April 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2018. 
  13. ^ "West Midlands franchise". Department for Transport. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  14. ^ "A Brief Outline of Railways in the Coventry Area". RCTS. Retrieved 17 February 2018. 
  15. ^ "£55m project will improve clearances on port route". Railnews. Retrieved 17 February 2018.