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COVENTRY'S RAIL RUSH.

Byline: Martin Bagot NEWS REPORTER

COVENTRY has seen the biggest increase in rail travel in the UK, according to a study.

The figures are being seen as a boost to campaigners lobbying in favour of the controversial HS2 rail line through Warwickshire after the city saw a 30 per cent increase in five years.

City business journeys also increased by a huge 48 per cent according to the data collected by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).

Rail capacity has been a major bone of contention in the bitter HS2 debate with campaigners questioning government demand forecasts for the PS32billion line which will run from London Euston to a new station near the NEC.

Figures released by ATOC show ten of the top 14 cities are outside the south east; with Coventry followed by Milton Keynes at 26 per cent, Norwich at 25 per cent and Birmingham with a 22 per cent increase in journeys.

Geoff Inskip, chief executive of West Midlands transport authority Centro, said: "Demand for rail travel continues to escalate and this is not just about London, this is happening right here.

"HS2 will provide fast, direct links between our major cities, but critically it also releases capacity on our existing lines. This report demonstrates just how much we need these extra local and regional services and the sooner the better."

Mr Inskip insists Coventry would see improved rail services once HS2 is built with new local services to Kenilworth and Leamington. He also expects improved cross-regional links to the Black Country, Staffordshire, Shropshire and a halfhourly fast service to Milton Keynes.

Centro has also put forward post-HS2 proposals which would see Coventry retain two fast trains to London per hour - still down from the current three. The data showed that overall, British railways are at their busiest since the 1920s.
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 21, 2013
Words:305
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