THE LONG-awaited Ricoh Arena train station is set to open next Monday and will improve rail links between Coventry and Nuneaton.
The £13.6million council-owned station has previously missed two scheduled opening dates due to a series of problems.
But from Monday January 18, one train per hour will stop off at the station.
Fans of both Coventry City Football Club and Aviva Premiership side Wasps will still be provisionally unable to use the station on matchdays.
This is due to council and emergency services chiefs fearing crowd safety problems at the Ricoh station on matchdays, because train operator London Midland has been unable to increase the service beyond the current one 75-seat train per hour.
And as reported in the Observer back in September last year, plans to increase the service by expanding the platform have been delayed until summer 2017.
The plan was to increase the one small train per hour to two longer trains per hour, with potentially more for sports and other events at the Ricoh Arena.
But there have been several severe delays to building the new six-carriage platform, as well as the scheme’s track and signal changes at Coventry station and Three Spires junction just south of the Ricoh Arena.
Andy Gibb, managing director of the Ricoh Arena, said: “We are pleased the train station has opened since it will increase transport options for our visitors who are attending our business events at the Ricoh Arena.
“We will now continue to work with London Midland to investigate the possibility of running special event services to add to the current timetable and support all the exciting events we have coming up.
“Our superb central location and fantastic facilities means we attract visitors from throughout the UK and the new train station will mean delegates who have travelled 60 minutes from London Euston to Coventry will then only have less than a ten-minute journey to the Ricoh Arena.
“We have a good transport system in place thanks to our location near the M6 and the fact we have 2,000 on-site car-parking spaces as well as park and walk sites, and the opening of the train station will further enhance our transport links.”
Coun John McNicholas, lead member for transport, said the investment at the Ricoh station and Bermuda Park in Nuneaton, which will also open on Monday, will give better rail access to jobs, retail, leisure and education across Coventry and Warwickshire while reducing road congestion.
He said: “It’s taken a while, certainly longer than we had hoped for, but finally the stations will be open and I’m delighted about that.
“Although the station at the Ricoh won’t be open directly after match or on major event days until Wasps, Coventry City Football Club or events sponsors charter trains, the new service will still provide lots of advantages for local people.”
The Coventry to Nuneaton upgrade is being delivered by Coventry City Council, Centro and Warwickshire County Council. It is funded by the three partners, the Department for Transport (DfT) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Bermuda Park will be the 150th station to join the London Midland network and it will have 30 free car parking spaces, while the Coventry Arena station will have 80 car parking spaces.
To download a timetable for the Coventry Arena station visit: www.londonmidland.com/download/112257.6/coventry-nu