Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
MAY 2018 TIMETABLE Introduction of new Thameslink timetable results in changes to East Midlands Trains services
East Midlands Trains (EMT) have announced some significant changes to train services from 20 May 2018. This is because of the introduction of a new Thameslink timetable, which will see 18 trains per hour (tph) through the central London Thameslink tunnel. As most of these will run onto the Midland Main Line towards Luton and Bedford, there will be pressure on track capacity until upgrade work is completed in 2020.
Full details remain unknown until the new timetable is made available in February 2018.
However, EMT have stated that:
"From the timetable change on 20 May 2018 until the completion of the Midland Main Line Upgrade in 2020, East Midlands Trains peak-time services to and from London will no longer call at Bedford or Luton. Direct East Midlands Trains rail services will continue to run from Leicestershire and Northamptonshire to London, and will continue to call at Luton Airport Parkway throughout the day. Off-peak and weekend services will continue to call at Bedford and Luton. During the morning peak, northbound services from Bedford and Luton will continue, and during the evening peak, southbound services to London will still call at Bedford and Luton.
Customers using East Midlands Trains services to commute from the north to Bedford during peak hours will be provided with an alternative, fully accessible coach service that will connect with rail services at Wellingborough. This will run every 30 minutes between Wellingborough and Bedford and any monthly or annual season ticket holders using the replacement coach service will be eligible for a 50% discount on their season ticket."
The main effects for Market Harborough are:
A second site visit took place at the station on 5th December, this time only with Network Rail. It covered a wider range of topics associated with the realignment and upgrade scheme. We explored further our aspirations for a lift from the booking office to the platforms; toilets on the southbound platform and better facilities generally at the new entrance from the new car park; platform shelter; provision for service buses and rail-replacement buses; short-stay parking and cycle facilities.
We are grateful to Network Rail for their willingness to meet with us again on this important scheme.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) publishes annual data on rail passenger numbers. Figures published today, 1st December, showed that Market Harborough had further growth, with a total of 888,036 rail journeys beginning or ending at the station during 2016-17. This is 2% up on last year and three times the 296,838 recorded in 1997-98; proof that if a good train service is provided, people will use it!
A site visit at the station took place on 1st December between three members of the HRU Committee, Harborough MP Neil O’Brien and representatives of the DfT, Network Rail and East Midlands Trains. This arose from a meeting on 14th November between Neil O’Brien and Rail Minister Paul Maynard MP at the Houses of Parliament on 14th November; with the DfT also present along with HRU Chair Steve Jones.
The site visit was convened at the DfT's suggestion to explore two particular concerns we have about the station upgrade and track realignment: the lack of proper access for the disabled from the booking office to the platforms and the lack of toilets on the new southbound platform. We looked around the station site and considered the implications including the best location for a lift, the requirements for mains electrical, water and drainage services and the other improvements that are included in the plans for the station. The various parties listened to what we said and, while not disagreeing, it was clear that limited finance is the main constraint here. There are many competing demands for limited funds! We are grateful that the various parties took time out to visit Market Harborough and discuss the issues openly with us. However, we will continue to press for these enhancements to what is otherwise a significant improvement to the station.