Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
On 29th January, Harborough Rail Users we invited consulting engineers JNP Group to take part in a public consultation on proposals to demolish the now-closed 1970s building at the south end of Platform 1 and construct a new building with toilets and a waiting room further along the platform. The short connecting ramp between the original Victorian ramp up from the booking office and the platform is to be reconstructed with a shallower angle of slope. A small canopy is proposed for the top of the ramp in place of the 1970s building.
The timescale for the work is between July 2021 and March 2022 and it is long overdue. HRU responded on 12th February, welcoming the project overall. We feel the optimum location for the new building is immediately south of the footbridge. We set out our views on the amenity and accessibility implications, especially as the new platforms are surprisingly narrow given the availability of land. We asked whether the disabled-accessible toilet will be of the ‘changing places’ kind, and commented on the furnishing and finish of the waiting room; plus the weather-protection at the top of the ramp once the 1970s building has gone. We also called for the new structures to have some ‘warmth’ in their design, including sympathetic architectural treatment of the area around the top of the Victorian ramp.
We now await further information about the project. Once built, the temporary toilet cabin in the station forecourt can be removed, which allow the forecourt to be tidied up and the layout reviewed in terms of pedestrian and vehicle safety.
At the 2018 AGM on 29th November, Harborough Rail Users reviewed the past year’s activities and set the scene for campaign topics for the next year.
Important decisions will be made over the next few months that will have a major effect on our station and train services for many years to come.
The main issues for Harborough Rail Users are:
Last September, the DfT announced the next round of Access for All funding for railway stations. Funds from a national allocation of £300m must be bid for by 'local delivery groups', which for Market Harborough means East Midlands Trains and Network Rail. They are including additional accessibility enhancements for our station in their overall bid for the EMT network.
HRU and Harborough MP Neil O'Brien have both submitted letters in support of this bid, which seeks funding towards an additional lift between the booking office and the new northbound platform, plus an accessible toilet on the new southbound platform. The DfT is due to announce its decision in April 2019.
Steve Jones and Cliff Taylor of HRU met Phil Baildon of the Harborough Disabled Access Group and HDC Cllr Phil Knowles at the station on 11th October. We discussed the station realignment scheme now work is under way on site, plus current plans and our respective aspirations for disabled access improvements at the station. The meeting was prompted by the recent closure of the barrow crossing, plus assurances received from Network Rail about the design of the new footbridge and lifts at the station. We confirmed that we share the same aspirations to ensure that the station will be fully fit for purpose once complete, including the additional features we seek. A further meeting will be held with Network Rail in due course.
On 17th September 2018, Nusrat Ghani MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, wrote to all MPs outlining the latest allocation of funds under the Access for All programme. This sets aside £300m for access improvements to railway stations as part of the government's Inclusive Transport Strategy, launched on 25th July. The funding covers Network Rail's 'Control Period 6' (CP6): the five years from 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2024. Bids for funds must be made by 'Local Delivery Groups' (LDGs), which usually means the local train operator and Network Rail. The deadline for bids is 16th November 2018, with the results announced in April 2019.
Market Harborough has already had an allocation of Access for All funds for the planned footbridge with lifts; this is due to be built with the new platforms on the straightened line in 2019. However, we seek further enhancements to the station's accessibility, in the form of:
We in Harborough Rail Users have been liaising with Harborough MP Neil O'Brien about all this and he has written to East Midlands Trains seeking a meeting. This is a first step towards getting a bid submitted for the additional enhancements to bring our increasingly busy station up to fully accessible modern standards. If recent growth trends continue, especially with all the new housing being built in the area, it will not be long before Market Harborough station sees over a million passenger journeys a year! We need a station that fully matches that level of business!
Further information is on the DfT website at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/access-for-all-programme
and Network Rail https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/passengers/station-improvements/access-for-all/