Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
The Department for Transport (DfT) published its prospectus for the next East Midlands franchise on 16th November 2016. Its purpose is to set out guidance for potential bidders for the franchise and it is subject to change in the light of further consultation, starting in December 2016. It identifies the DfT's aims for the franchise in terms of growth and innovation. One snippet that caught our eye was on page 23 of the document, where it says "There is an opportunity to further invest in and develop the commuter market between South Leicestershire and London from December 2019 onwards, following the addition of a sixth path from St Pancras to serve Corby. This will allow bidders to consider how the provision of services can be used to enhance additional capacity for commuters on this route, while also creating journey time improvements on services to Nottingham and Sheffield."
We in HRU await the launch of the public consultation. In the meantime, the prospectus is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/569286/east-midlands-rail-franchise-competition-prospectus.pdf
Network Rail and EMT consultation event on Market Harborough station and track realignment scheme, 12th November 2016
Network Rail (NR) and East Midlands Trains (EMT) held a public consultation exhibition at Market Harborough market hall on Saturday 12th November, showing their draft proposals for the linespeed improvement scheme through the town and the associated modifications to the station. This was a follow-up event to one held on 27th February 2016 and took account of comments made at that time. One of the main things was a strong local desire to retain the existing main building at the station; this is now intended. The station is to be provided with new full-length straight platforms linked by a new footbridge with lifts. A new car park and road access are to be provided on the east side of the line. Overall, the scheme will be a great improvement on the existing arrangements. However, some decisions remain to be made including the exact design of the footbridge (e.g. whether it will have a roof) and other aspects of access and facilities. There is also no provision for canopies or staff accommodation on the platforms.
Network Rail are inviting comments via:
Questions remain about the government's exact plans for electrification of the Midland Main Line (MML) through Market Harborough. Though the section from Bedford to Kettering and Corby is confirmed for completion in 2019, there are worries that Phase 2, from Kettering via Market Harborough to Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield, due in 2023, may not go ahead. Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough, is so concerned that she is using an adjournment debate in the Commons on 7th November to seek an assurance from the Transport Minister that the scheme will still go ahead. Decisions need to be made quickly as the InterCity 125 High Speed Trains, wonderful though they are, need to be replaced or expensively modernised by the end of 2019. Nicky Morgan made the very valid point that if the MML is not electrified, it will be the last inter-city line to London not to be electrified. 'What does that say about the importance that we in the country attach to the Midlands?', she asked. BBC Radio Leicester's Breakfast programme covered the story with a reporter at Market Harborough station interviewing HRU and passengers about it. The Department for Transport stated that the national rail enhancement programme remains in place.
Harborough Rail Users will be holding their 2016 AGM on 24th November, starting at 8:00 pm.
The meeting is to take place in the Conference Room, Roman Way Community Centre, Roman Way, Market Harborough, LE16 7PQ.
As well as electing officers for the forthcoming year, the meeting will consider relevant topics including the planned realignment of the line through Market Harborough and the associated upgrading of the station and facilities. Anyone who cares about the local rail service and the quality of the station facilities is welcome to come along.