Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
The 2020 Harborough Rail Users AGM took place on 28th November. It was held online on Zoom because of the Covid pandemic.
It has been a most unusual year because of the pandemic, which has been very challenging for the railway. EMR and Network Rail have worked hard to maintain as good a service as they have; significant cutbacks in late March being restored to give almost a full service for Market Harborough by September. Nonetheless, HRU activity has continued, with meetings early in the year associated with further work on the station, and much email correspondence and telephone discussions on a number of topics since, and communication with EMR and Network Rail has remained good. We have also had contact with local councillors and the MP regarding the station, and fares policy.
The past year has seen the opening of the car park extension and the cycle hub, the closure of the coffee shop, and liaison with Market Harborough in Bloom regarding their role as station adopters. However, we still await new toilets and platform canopies as well as a decision on electrification. Interim arrangements with rolling stock are clearer, as we await the new bi-mode ‘Aurora’ trains in 2023.
The AGM saw the existing Committee and officers re-elected. The following campaign topics for HRU for the year ahead were agreed:
A design classic on borrowed time. An HST, in the old East Midlands Trains livery but still looking very smart, departs Market Harborough with the 10:31 to Nottingham on 26th November 2020.
Picture: Steve Jones
The long-awaited new cycle hub at Market Harborough station finally opened on Monday 16th November. It was jointly funded by the Department for Transport, East Midlands Railway and Harborough District Council through a programme managed by cycling promotion group Sustrans. It provides secure, weather-proof parking space for up to 140 bicycles. Users need a fob ‘key’, application forms for which are obtainable from the booking office at the station; there is a £10 deposit which is returnable when the fob is returned. The keys are time-limited to one year, though can be renewed. This is to prevent unused keys remaining in circulation indefinitely.
The location of the cycle hub building in the station forecourt has attracted some local controversy and HRU were involved in discussions about this. Other suggested locations in the new or old car park areas were ruled out, either for road safety reasons or because the land in question was not available. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the new facility is a major improvement on the rather ramshackle arrangements previously available, which were also vulnerable to cycle theft. Indeed, a man recently pleaded guilty to stealing four bicycles from the station in 2019.
A few cycle parking ‘pods’ remain in place outside the cycle hub building to provide bike parking for occasional users who may not wish to obtain a fob key.