Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
At the 2019 AGM on 11th November, Harborough Rail Users reviewed the past year’s activities and set the scene for campaign topics for the next year.
A busy year
The past year has particularly busy, dominated by the major reconstruction of the station and the franchise changeover from Stagecoach East Midlands Trains (EMT) to Abellio East Midlands Railway (EMR). Debate has continued about electrification, though we now have greater clarity about future rolling stock for the line. HRU has also dealt both with day-to-day matters concerning the train service, and much longer-term matters such as the recent proposal to reopen the line to Northampton.
Again, HRU has played a full part in consultations and has maintained contact with relevant organisations including the rail industry, local authorities, local elected representatives, and transport user representative groups. The willingness of EMT, EMR, Network Rail and others to meet and discuss various matters was noted, as was the continued support of the local MP and councillors in pressing for further improvements. The HRU Committee were thanked for all their help and support throughout the year.
Campaign priorities for the year ahead
The reorganisation of local government in Northamptonshire means that the County and all the District Councils will be replaced by two new unitary councils from 1st April 2021: West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire. In preparation for this, there has been consultation on the West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan, looking at planning and infrastructure for the area. It includes a proposal to reopen the line between Market Harborough and Northampton as part of ‘North–South Rail’. As well as providing a useful local connection, it would be part of a valuable inter-regional route linking Nottingham, Derby and Leicester with Northampton, Milton Keynes and, potentially, Heathrow Airport via the planned Crossrail and HS2 interchange at Old Oak Common in west London. It would also complement 'East-West Rail', which is planned to reinstate the rail link between Oxford, Bedford and Cambridge.
As the section of the line within Market Harborough has been lost to redevelopment, a short new section would need to be built around the outskirts of the town. Provision would also need to be made to replace the popular Brampton Valley Way footpath and cycle track along the route. Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP, has stated that he is 'very supportive' of the idea. Harborough Rail Users will consider the proposal at its forthcoming AGM on 11th November. However, in response to requests for interviews by local press and radio, HRU Chair Steve Jones gave his personal support for a line that would fill a major gap in the region's rail services. Though the consultation is now closed, further information can be found at:
The commemorative last train stands at the platform at Market Harborough before departing for the final run back to Northampton, stopping at the sites of some of the intermediate stations, 15th August 1981.
Harborough Rail Users are holding their Annual General Meeting on Monday 11th November 2019 in Room 5 at the Roman Way Community Centre, Market Harborough. The meeting starts at 8:00 pm.
As well as electing officers for the group for the forthcoming year, the meeting will consider relevant topics including:
Harborough Rail Users held an open Committee meeting at The Oat Hill bar on Kettering Road on Tuesday evening, 24th September 2019.
Topics covered included the new Abellio EMR franchise; the rebuilding of Market Harborough station and related work on the line; future rolling-stock plans for both the main line and the Corby electric services; forthcoming weekend engineering work including the planned replacement bus services; and the HRU AGM in November, date to be arranged.
Though HRU has an elected Committee, our meetings are open to all with an interest in the station and train service at Market Harborough.
HRU Chair Steve Jones met EMR's Stakeholder Manager Laura Etheridge at the station on 12th September to discuss various topical matters. They were joined by Celia Davis of Network Rail. Among matters discussed were: