A ceremonial groundbreaking has been held to mark the start of work to improve Route 41 of the National Cycle Network, also known as the Lias Line. Many key stakeholders came along to witness the traditional turning of the first sod.
Cllr Seccombe and Clare Maltby at the front with all the assembled guests
Making this project a reality
At the ceremony, our England Director Midlands and East, Clare Maltby, welcomed delegates and spoke passionately about the innovative scheme.
Speaking at the event she said:
“For many years we have been working closely with the community and local authority partners to make this project a reality so I’m thrilled to see phase one being delivered.
"It’s a really exciting project which will transform provision for cycling and walking in Warwickshire.
"And barrier removals - paid for by the British Horse Society - will make it accessible to horse riders too.
"We’ve been delayed by the pandemic but we’re back on track and raring to go!
I’m incredibly grateful to our partners and the Department for Transport who have been instrumental in making this happen.”
Our England Director Midlands and East, Clare Maltby, welcomed delegates and spoke passionately about the innovative scheme.
Other speakers included:
- Jeremy Wright MP, the Leader of Warwickshire County Council,
- Cllr Izzi Seccombe,
- Mark Weston from the British Horse Society, and
- Ron Pinfield from contractors CLM.
The scheme has received funding of £5.1m from the Department for Transport and Transport.
Minister Chris Heaton-Harris MP also sent a message in support of the scheme.
In 2019, the 'Paths For Everyone' report published by Sustrans identified Route 41 through Warwickshire as one of several routes on the National Cycle Network which required improvement.
Other partners have also contributed to the Lias Line scheme, including the British Horse Society, Warwickshire County Council, Warwick District Council and Rugby District Council.
Warwickshire's longest traffic-free greenway
The current works will deliver ‘phase one’ of the improvements which are expected to be completed by September 2022.
Phase one will cost around £5.1m and will see the creation of a completely new sealed surface off-road stretch of track.
This will follow the ‘branch line’ of the old Lias Line railway route creating a more direct connection between the Offchurch Greenway and Long Itchington.
When it’s complete, around 4.0km of on-road cycling route between Offchurch Greenway and Long Itchington will be replaced with 5.46km of very good off-road track.
This will improve the safety of the route which will form part of Warwickshire’s longest traffic-free greenway providing a mix of leisure and commuter activity.
Ambitious plans for second phase
Subject to funding, the second phase of the work will make use of the old railway ‘main line’ to create a new off-road track to improve connectivity with Birdingbury and other nearby villages.
Included in this phase, a new bridge over the A423 at Marton will be built to replace an existing bridge which is nearing the end of its life.
This will ensure the new stretch remains safe and accessible for many years to come.
The third and final phase will follow the branch line route south to the Stockton reservoir.
The route will form part of Warwickshire’s longest traffic-free greenway and provide a mix of leisure and commuter activity.
Part of the Paths for Everyone Project
The Lias Line was selected for improvement following our ‘Paths for Everyone’ review of the National Cycle Network in 2019.
It found that much of the off-road sections were overgrown with a poor surface.
Several sections suffer from poor access points and feature gradients that do not meet current standards.
The existing path will also be severed by HS2.
The National Cycle Network is a critical part of the UK’s active travel infrastructure and strategy encouraging people to walk and cycle in a safe environment.
Around 4.4 million people walk, cycle, wheel and scoot on the National Cycle Network every year.
Over 50 per cent of the UK population live within a 20-minute walk/ one mile of its paths and routes.