Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
In March 2016, Leicestershire County Council published a draft Rail Strategy for the county. It was prepared in the context of the major growth in rail traffic and a recognition of the importance of the railways to the economy and prosperity of the area. A significant factor is the government’s commitment to building HS2, the eastern leg of which passes through north-west Leicestershire but without any local stations. The draft Strategy seeks to ensure the best advantage to the area from HS2 despite this. Overall, the draft Strategy is positive towards rail and sets out numerous ways in which rail services in the county could be developed.
Key Priority 1 in the draft Strategy is Maximising the benefits from increased investment in the Midland Main Line railway infrastructure and services and this is clearly of great importance to HRU. In our response, we supported this aim, with particular reference to ensuring that we retain suitably high-quality rolling stock after electrification so that we are not downgraded to an outer-suburban service. Though the Strategy understandably focuses on Leicester and its aim to get within 60 minutes of St Pancras, we stressed that the other stations on the line, particularly Market Harborough, should not be overlooked. With that in mind, we reiterated the need for our station to be brought up to proper modern standards, including accessibility, under the linespeed improvement project. We also supported the various potential improvements to inter-regional services to the West Midlands, via HS2 to the North and via East-West Rail to the Thames Valley and East Anglia.
In all of this, however, we noted that the role of the local authorities and LEP is chiefly one of facilitating and lobbying for improvements rather than directly providing them.
We therefore support the draft Strategy and hope it will be formally adopted by both the County and City Councils.