11/04/2016

Stinging Extras

Skip Rugby Charter
DB Schenker (on hire to Riviera Trains) 67006, Coventry (© Aubrey)

Wasps RFC are originally from London, being formed back in 1847 (split into the professional club in 1996). However, due to Fulham FC's Craven Cottage being redeveloped, they moved from White City Estate (Loftus Road Stadium) to Wycombe (Adams Park). They never returned after moving in 2002, playing home games in Adams Park, and when it wasn't available, Coventry's Ricoh Arena. After plans to move permanently to a new stadium at Wycombe Air Park failed, Wasps purchased the operating company of the Ricoh Arena, moving themselves there to cohabit with the existing football team, Coventry City FC.

New: Coventry Arena Station
Coventry Arena Station + Ricoh Arena (© Aubrey)

The stadium was built in 2005 to replace the Highfield Road ground. It is alongside the Coventry-Nuneaton line and earlier in January 2016, the new station at the Ricoh Arena, called Coventry Arena was opened. However, due to a lack of trains (capacity) to run a service to the arena during events, it was agreed that the station would be closed during events, negating one of the exact reasons why the station was opened in the first place! To combat this, London Midland and Wasps RFC jointly hired a 67/Mk2 carriages set to run before and after two rugby matches. The 28th February and the 12th March, matches against Harlequins and Leicester, saw these extra services run.

DB Schenker 67028, Nuneaton
DB Schenker 67028, Nuneaton (© Aubrey)

On February 28th, 67028 and 67006 ran a six coach service between Coventry-Arena-Nuneaton. It turned out that other than rail enthusiasts, the service seemed to be well patronised. However, the service wasn't cheap, and as it ran as an extra service and not a charter service, non-fans rode the train using normal tickets, and fans also used normal tickets for this service.

Wasps Rugby Special
Wasps Rugby Special (CC Aubrey)

The service was limited stop, and due to the platform length at Coventry Arena, only the rear three coaches stopped at Coventry Arena towards Nuneaton. The full six coaches were available towards Coventry.

DB Schenker 67028, Coventry
DB Schenker 67028, Coventry (© Aubrey)

Ultimately, this service didn't go well commercially for London Midland. However it did convey more than 10% of the fans at the Wasps matches. Wasps want the service to relaunch in time for the new season in September, but for now, the station will once again shut for events, ironically as it was built to handle crowds from such events!

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