Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
Back in July, we reported that Transport for London (TfL) had given notice of their intention to pull out of the Travelcard agreement with train operators for Day Travelcards. The background was a financial shortfall at TfL, who felt they received an inadequate share of the ticket revenue. This meant the Day Travelcard – though not the season ticket versions – was to be withdrawn from 21st January 2024.
Along with many others, including rail user groups and local authorities, we in Harborough Rail Users considered this a seriously retrograde step. We made representations both to TfL and to our MP, Neil O’Brien, urging a reversal of the decision. The Travelcard is one of the best examples of integrated transport this country has; one simple ticket giving return rail travel to London and unlimited local rail, tube, tram and bus travel throughout the relevant fare zones plus discounts on the Thames Clipper river buses.
We were therefore delighted to hear on 25th October that TfL and the Rail Delivery Group had come to an agreement such that the Day Travelcard would continue to be available. According to Rail Minister Huw Merriman, the deal came after ‘government intervention’.
However, from 24th March 2024 there will be 3% one-off increase on the price of a Travelcard on top of the annual fare increase.
Harborough Rail Users are holding their 2023 Annual General Meeting on Thursday 23rd November 2023, starting at 7:00pm, as an online meeting 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. Campaign priorities for the forthcoming year will also be considered. Among these are the continuing disruption to train services, the consultation on ticket office closures, and the progress with electrification of the line.
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.
The hard work done this year by Market Harborough in Bloom Volunteers at the station has paid off with a Judge’s Special Award. This recognised the ‘difficult conditions’ for such activities at a busy railway station. As well as maintaining the amenity planting around the town centre, Market Harborough in Bloom are the ‘adopters’ of the station under EMR’s Station Adoption scheme. They have installed and look after various planting schemes around the station, aimed at softening the rather utilitarian nature of the new platforms and enhancing the station forecourt.
We in Harborough Rail Users maintain a close working relationship with Market Harborough in Bloom and warmly congratulate them for the recognition they have achieved.
Earlier this year, the Mayor of London announced a proposal to withdraw from the Day Travelcard arrangement with train operators, including EMR. Harborough Rail Users submitted a response to the public ‘engagement’ on this, identifying that the Day Travelcard is a popular and useful ticket, both for day-trippers and for part-time commuters. We urged retention of the Day Travelcard, especially given that the whole question was in the context of the Government’s funding settlement for Transport for London (TfL).
On 21st July 2023, however, TfL announced that the Mayor had “…reluctantly instructed us to give the required minimum six months’ notice to withdraw from the relevant provisions of the Travelcard agreement”.
TfL’s statement goes on to say:
“While this six-month process is now underway, it is important that we are clear this remains reversible and does not therefore mean that Day Travelcards will be withdrawn. We and the Mayor remain open to discussing all options with both the Department for Transport, the Rail Delivery Group and the train operating companies, but in a way which would allow us to continue to meet the requirements of the government funding agreement. The existing daily pay as you go caps on contactless or Oyster, which are used by the overwhelming majority of those travelling, will not be affected by this.
We would like to reassure you that while these discussions take place Day Travelcards will remain available.”
Harborough Rail Users see this as very bad news. We hope the decision will be reversed. If the Day Travelcard actually is withdrawn, we will press for an equivalent day return ticket to London. We would want to ensure that the many people who use Day Travelcards can continue to enjoy a day in London, using Oyster or Contactless payment, at an equivalent cost and level of flexibility as they can now.
On Monday 10th July, a working party took place at the station, clearing weeds from the gravel area behind Platform 2 and generally tidying up. As well as the local station adopters from Market Harborough in Bloom, several colleagues from EMR and the Department for Transport came along to help. They were on a community support day, and put in a lot of effort to help.
Tuesday 11th July saw the judges from East Midlands in Bloom visit the town, as part of the regional competition. They had a good look around the station planting. We now await their verdict!
Getting down to it. Market Harborough in Bloom, EMR and DfT volunteers clearing weeds near the shrub planters behind Platform 2 on 10th July 2023.
Photos: Steve Jones
In full bloom: floral planting near
the car park steps.