Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
Harborough Rail Users are holding their 2021 Annual General Meeting on Friday 26th November 2021, starting at 1:00pm. Because of continuing Covid precautions, the meeting this year will be held online on Zoom.
As well as electing officers for the group for the forthcoming year, the meeting will consider relevant topics including reviewing the past year and the start of the recovery from the Covid pandemic. Campaign priorities for the forthcoming year will also be considered. Among these are the remaining improvements we would like to see at the station, and the electrification of the line, now in its early stages.
Anyone who cares about Market Harborough's station and rail service and would like to attend the online AGM is invited to contact Harborough Rail Users via our Get in Touch facility.
During the rebuilding of the station in summer 2019, the old Harborough Rail Users noticeboard disappeared. It was on the approach wall to the subway and was an important means of communicating the activities of HRU to the users of the station. Repeated enquiries never identified what happened to it! However, EMR agreed to provide a replacement, and this was installed on 21st September 2021, next to the position of the old one. We are grateful to EMR for providing this.
Out with the old, in with the new. On the left, the new HRU noticeboard installed by EMR on the subway wall on 21st September 2021. The grubby area of paintwork just beyond it is where the old one was, seen in the rather murky picture on the right, taken on 27th May 2019, just after the departure of the last train from the old platforms prior to the rebuilding. No-one seems to know what happened to it!
Pictures: Steve Jones
Long-awaited renovation works on the Victorian main building and the ramp up to Platform 1 were in progress in late August. With the recent emphasis on the new construction at platform level, the older part of the station was getting rather shabby and in need of some TLC. On 24th August, there was evidence of that happening, with some replacement windows on the covered ramp up from the booking office, where timber had become quite rotten. Work was also in hand on the sash windows on the upper floor of the main building frontage. Market Harborough's main building is an absolute architectural gem and deserves to be kept in good repair.
Work in progress: old windows removed and a new sill fitted on the covered ramp at Market Harborough station, 24th August 2021. (Photo: Steve Jones)
Later that same day: new windows fitted (2nd, 3rd and 4th from left) on the covered ramp, in an authentic style. Note the broad metal-edged kerb at the foot of the wall; this was used as a brake for slowing heavy luggage and parcels trolleys on their way down from the platform in days gone by! (Photo: Steve Jones)
The lovely frontage of Market Harborough station on 24th August 2021. The left-hand section of the centre-right double window on the first floor was undergoing repair work.
(Photo: Steve Jones)
The Government’s ‘roadmap’ for easing Covid restrictions originally intended to see the country return to near normal in late June. However, this was postponed by four weeks to Monday 19th July, which was heralded for a time as ‘Freedom Day’. The railway industry was hoping this might also mean that their marketing campaign to encourage people back would also be permitted. However, the four-week postponement has coincided with a massive increase in infections. Hospitalisations and deaths have also risen, though by a much lower rate than in previous 'waves', because of the protection given by the vaccination programme.
The legal requirement for face coverings on most public transport and elsewhere is revoked. (Some operators, such as TfL, have made face coverings a requirement in their conditions of carriage.) However, the current ‘third wave’ means that the national mood is not one of celebration; there is a great deal of fear, and many people were still required to self-isolate because of contact with infected people. This is leading to train operators often struggling to run the complete timetable because of staff shortages.
EMR have advised that there would be no change to Covid-safe requirements for staff, nor would there be any reduction in the cleaning and sanitisation regime for trains and stations. Though the legal requirement had gone, EMR and other train operators have adopted an advisory policy of ‘In crowded spaces, wear a face covering out of respect for others’.
More details are on EMR's website at: https://www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/covid-19#
Revisions have been made to the station forecourt area. The area previously occupied by a temporary toilet block has been marked out with six disabled parking bays, and the taxis have been moved to a small area on the opposite side, next to the railway embankment; this area remains constrained by the new temporary toilets.
Harborough Rail Users have asked about plans for the forecourt once the temporary toilets have been replaced by a new permanent facility at platform level. One serious limitation at the station is the almost complete absence of short-stay parking; that at the entrance to the main car park only has four bays and is clearly marked 'Drop off only - no waiting'. That makes it unavailable for anyone arriving by car to meet someone off a train. The forecourt currently only has two general-use parking bays (complete with the ludicrous Pay & Display machine!). Given the sheer scale of the main car park, it is extraordinary that a station serving a large car-dependent rural catchment area has such inadequate short-stay parking! We shall continue to pursue this with EMR.
We would also like to see a barrier installed on the edge of the pavement immediately outside the main building entrance doors. This would channel people leaving the station onto the pavements to left and right, and thereby, for example, stop children running out into the vehicle area.
Revised parking arrangements: new disabled parking bays outside the main building at Market Harborough station.
We await details of further revisions to the layout of the station forecourt once the temporary toilet block has been replaced by a new facility at platform level.
Picture: Steve Jones