Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
The Department for Transport has announced that the Midland Main Line is to be electrified to Market Harborough. This is an extension of the scheme currently under way to electrify from Bedford to Kettering and Corby. The decision had been anticipated, as the power supply for that electrification will be from the National Grid high-voltage power line that crosses the railway near Braybrooke, just south of Market Harborough. It makes sense to feed that power back to Kettering using overhead wires rather than an underground conduit, and then to extend it for 'the last mile' into Market Harborough. The decision means that our trains will run electrically all the way between Market Harborough and London. This will make them quieter, cleaner and faster. Until electrification is extended further, however, they will switch to diesel for the section north to Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield.
The Market Harborough electrification is due to be completed in December 2023.
The decision is warmly welcome, but we need to ensure that Market Harborough retains an inter-city service rather than becoming the terminus for outer-suburban trains.
On Friday 1st March, two members of the HRU Committee joined a guided tour of the Market Harborough station construction site. This was for local stakeholders, including Harborough MP Neil O'Brien and representatives of the Harborough Disability Access Group, and was by invitation of Network Rail, their contractors and East Midlands Trains. Dressed head-to-foot in the regulation orange safety gear, we were shown the progress so far with the new platforms, footbridge and track that has so far been laid on the new alignment. Then it was back to the site office for a sandwich lunch and a presentation on the work still to be done, including the plans for completion of the work. This includes completing the bridge, installing waiting rooms and shelters on both platforms and, ultimately, extension of the car park over the land where the current platforms are.
The station will be closed for six days from Tuesday 28th May to Sunday 2nd June inclusive to allow the new layout to be connected into the main line. When it reopens on Monday 3rd June, the new northbound platform will be complete, but the new southbound platform will need further work associated with demolition of the existing platforms. This will mean the existing subway being temporarily closed, though by then the footbridge will be available. Full completion, including 200 extra car park spaces, is due for December 2019.
We remain concerned about the lack of any plans for additional toilets on the southbound side, access for the disabled from the booking office to the platforms, and lack of any platform canopies. Proper provision for cycle parking also remains to be resolved. However, we are grateful to Network Rail for arranging the site visit and for engaging in open dialogue about the scheme.