Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
In issuing the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the next East Midlands franchise, the Department for Transport (DfT) has set out the essential specification for our train service from August 2019. Harborough Rail Users have therefore had final consultation meetings with all three bidders on the shortlist: Abellio, Arriva and Stagecoach.
We had met all three before the ITT was issued and they have had details of our aspirations for the train service and the Market Harborough station. We took the opportunity to bring to their attention our full response to the DfT's own consultation and talk with each about that and the ITT. Our approach is completely independent and impartial; we want the best possible train service for Market Harborough, irrespective of who provides it.
Franchise bidding is, of course, a competitive process and therefore the companies are as yet unable to share any plans they may have. Similarly, the discussions we had with them were conducted in full recognition of commercial confidentiality. Their bids must be submitted by 5th September 2018 and the outcome will be made known by the DfT in March or April 2019. We now await the outcome!
Though it actually opened to the public on 18th June, the new car park had its official opening today, 6th July. In attendance were Harborough MP, Neil O'Brien, representatives of Network Rail, East Midlands Trains, the Leicester & Leicester Local Enterprise Partnership (LLEP - one of the funding bodies for the whole realignment scheme) plus Steve Jones, Chair of Harborough Rail Users. There was a press photocall to record the event.
The completion of the car park is the first stage of the realignment and rebuilding of the station and the line through it. The old car park, on the west side of the line, has closed and this releases the site for the track realignment to take place. Some work north of the station has already been done, with the trackbed largely cleared, and ballast, sleepers and rail delivered. Some track has already been laid. Most of the work can be completed 'off-line', without affecting the operation of the existing railway alongside. However, a track closure will be required for a few days in 2019 so that the new track and platforms can be connected up and open in May. Once that happens, the car park can then be extended with a further 200 spaces over the land currently occupied by the existing track and platforms.