Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
On 26th November, LMS Pacific 46233 Duchess of Sutherland came through Market Harborough on a special from Ealing Broadway to York and back. Hauling a long train of maroon-liveried and Pullman coaches, she made a fine sight – despite being piloted by a diesel locomotive.
The return run came through at 20:35. By this time, darkness shrouded the train as it stormed though the station, taking a run at the gradient up Desborough bank. The clouds of white steam reflected the glow of the engine’s fire, giving the illusion of flames leaping and dancing above the cab. Rather atmospheric!
Tragically, a strike by ASLEF meant that EMR were running no services at all that day (apart from the 00:39 to Derby, which was really the previous evening’s train.) This special was therefore the only passenger train through Market Harborough on 26th November. In turn, this meant that all passenger trains though our station that day were the steam hauled*; the first time this has happened since 1957!
* Let’s give it the benefit of the doubt and ignore the supporting diesel locomotive!
LMS Pacific 46233 Duchess of Sutherland hustles a long train through Market Harborough a few minutes late at 09:17 on a special from Ealing Broadway to York on Saturday 26th November.
Picture: Steve Jones
The Government’s Office of Rail and Road (ORR) publishes annual data on rail passenger numbers. Albeit some time after the end of the reporting year, the ORR published figures for the year April 2021 – March 2022 on 24th November 2022. These are calculated as ‘entries and exits’ using data from ticket sales; in other words, journeys starting or ending at each station. For Market Harborough, these totalled 531,140 in 2021-22, up 252% on the much-depleted figure of 150,866 the previous year resulting from the pandemic. This represents a good degree of recovery post-Covid, though is still well down on the pre-Covid peak of 898,058 in 2019-20.
Passengers changing trains at each station are also counted, though for Market Harborough this does not apply and the official figure was 0. Kettering, on the other hand, being the interchange point between EMR Intercity and Connect services, had 99,783 such passengers in the year.
Busy moment at Market Harborough. Passengers board the 15:32 to Nottingham on 28th April 2022, while the slightly late 15:29 to St Pancras calls at the adjacent platform. On the left, the new waiting room and toilets building is taking shape; this opened on 22nd July.
Picture: Steve Jones
Harborough Rail Users held their Annual General Meeting on Thursday 24th November 2022, online on Zoom.
Steve Jones was re-elected as Chair, and the other officers and Committee were elected for the forthcoming year. The priorities for the group were confirmed; these are:
Harborough Rail Users are holding their 2022 Annual General Meeting on Thursday 24th November 2022, starting at 7:00pm, as an online meeting on Zoom.
As well as electing officers for the group for the forthcoming year, the meeting will consider relevant topics including reviewing the past year. Campaign priorities for the forthcoming year will also be considered. Among these are the continuing disruption to train services, the remaining improvements we would like to see at the station, and the progress with electrification of the line.
Anyone who cares about Market Harborough's station and rail service and would like to attend the online AGM is invited to contact Harborough Rail Users via our Get in Touch facility.
As a postscript to the item below (10th October 2022), two additional planting boxes in the style of traditional railway wagons have been installed at Market Harborough station. Standing on their own length of ‘track’, they have been placed on the south side of the car park steps, to complement the two luggage trolleys on the other side. As with the restored trolleys, they were built by a local retired engineer, using wood generously donated by Harborough firm Glenmere Timber.
Station wagons: the two additional planting boxes for Market Harborough in Bloom, located by the car park steps onto the southbound platform. Photo: Steve Jones