Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
East Midlands Railway (EMR) have issued as update on social distancing and other precautions as the lock-down is slightly eased and passenger numbers may rise as a result. Some Government restrictions were eased on 1st June, and non-essential retail shops can re-open on 15th June, so activity is taking place across the rail network to ensure proper precautions are taken. EMR advise that all their 91 stations plus their train fleet display social distancing guidance, and staff have been briefed. Non-essential travel continues to be discouraged, however. Further information can be found on EMR’s website at https://www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/covid-19.
Our timetable at Market Harborough is back to near-normal levels and can be viewed here.
With the blessing of the site contractors, Amey, members of the Northampton & Lamport Railway recovered two trailer-loads of old wooden sleepers plus the last yard-lamp from Market Harborough's former sidings. The sidings were the last remnant of the goods yard, and had latterly been used for stabling of track engineering machines. That facility has now been relocated to Knighton Junction, on the southern approach to Leicester. The sidings were also occasionally used for other rolling stock and the picture below shows one of their last occupants, a brand-new Class 710 Bombardier Aventra electric train being delivered to London Overground.
The sleepers were taken to Boughton on the Northampton & Lamport heritage railway, which is restoring a section of the old Market Harborough to Northampton line, closed in 1981. They will be used for point-work at the new station being built at Boughton.
Further information about the Northampton & Lamport Railway can be found at https://www.nlr.org.uk/.
Following revisions to the Government's advice on the coronavirus lockdown, EMR have announced changes to train services from Monday 18th May. This is part of national step-up of services after the severe reductions that have been place since March. However, the advice is still that all passengers continue to follow Government travel advice and only travel if it is absolutely necessary.
The timetable pattern for the Midland Main Line, which serves Market Harborough, is as follows from 18th May until further notice:
2 Trains Per Hour each way between London and Sheffield:
Pending the publication of the actual timetables on the EMR website, we assume the Nottingham trains will all call at Market Harborough. Calling patterns may differ during AM and PM peak periods.
A consequence of the changed timetable from Monday 18th May is that the peak-time calls at Bedford and Luton, which had been temporarily reinstated since March, will again be withdrawn and the bus connections from Wellingborough reinstated. The reason is that social distancing is easier if Bedford and Luton peak passengers use Thameslink rather than EMR services; the tiny numbers likely to use the Wellingborough buses mean that distancing between passengers is not a problem.
Circa 80% of services will operate Monday to Saturday, with selected off-peak reductions compared to normal.
Services on all routes will operate throughout the normal hours of operation, with early and late services reinstated on routes where limited opening hours are currently in place.
Liverpool-Norwich services will re-commence operating between Sheffield and Liverpool, with a small number of off-peak cancellations on the route. Services between Nottingham and Worksop will operate hourly, calling at all intermediate stations.
Sunday services will continue to operate at current reduced levels.
Along with all train operators, EMR are introducing various social distancing measures to protect passengers and staff so far as is possible during this time. These measures include new signs at stations and on trains advising passengers about keeping two metres apart; some changes to entrances and exits at larger stations; marked out queuing arrangements at booking offices and ticket barriers; encouragement to use contactless card payments if buying tickets at stations; cordoning-off adjacent seats and ticket machines at stations; removal of leaflets; and regular cleaning of 'touch surfaces'. However, they acknowledge that it is up to passengers to conduct themselves sensibly; train company staff cannot physically enforce the rules for everyone and we all have a part to play. On-train catering and seat reservations remain suspended. EMR advise that all the procedures and rules remain under constant review and are subject to change.
Services have been running well so far during the lock-down period, with high levels of punctuality achieved. However, though numbers are beginning increase, there has been a massive reduction in usage of our trains; the picture below shows the car park at Market Harborough completely empty, though admittedly it was on a Sunday, 3rd May.