Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
The Government’s ‘roadmap’ for easing Covid restrictions originally intended to see the country return to near normal in late June. However, this was postponed by four weeks to Monday 19th July, which was heralded for a time as ‘Freedom Day’. The railway industry was hoping this might also mean that their marketing campaign to encourage people back would also be permitted. However, the four-week postponement has coincided with a massive increase in infections. Hospitalisations and deaths have also risen, though by a much lower rate than in previous 'waves', because of the protection given by the vaccination programme.
The legal requirement for face coverings on most public transport and elsewhere is revoked. (Some operators, such as TfL, have made face coverings a requirement in their conditions of carriage.) However, the current ‘third wave’ means that the national mood is not one of celebration; there is a great deal of fear, and many people were still required to self-isolate because of contact with infected people. This is leading to train operators often struggling to run the complete timetable because of staff shortages.
EMR have advised that there would be no change to Covid-safe requirements for staff, nor would there be any reduction in the cleaning and sanitisation regime for trains and stations. Though the legal requirement had gone, EMR and other train operators have adopted an advisory policy of ‘In crowded spaces, wear a face covering out of respect for others’.
More details are on EMR's website at: https://www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/covid-19#
EMR have announced a revised timetable from Monday 18th January, with some service reductions. The main reason is reduced availability of traincrew staff because of Covid-related absences. EMR have understandably made the decision that it is better to have a reduced timetable than to have ad hoc cancellations day by day.
For Market Harborough, the weekday timetable is little changed; the only changes are that the 19:40 runs only to Sheffield, not Leeds, and from 1st February the 20:55 from Nottingham to St Pancras, calling at Market Harborough at 21:42, no longer runs. However, on Saturdays, numerous trains between Nottingham and St Pancras no longer run, and our 07:33 to York is also withdrawn. Other trains that are still running may have reduced numbers of carriages.
EMR Regional services, none of which serve Market Harborough, see varying reductions from Monday 26th January.
EMR state that: "We will continue to keep these changes under review, alongside the impact of Covid on the availability of our staff. As a minimum it is envisaged this timetable will run until the national lockdown is lifted and at which point, we will look to move towards reinstatement to today’s (pre-18th January) service level as soon as is possible."
EMR and Network Rail have notified stakeholders including Harborough Rail Users that the major timetable change planned for December 2020, when the Corby electrification was due to open, has been deferred until May 2021. This comes as no surprise; it is a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected:
EMR also advise that there are 'challenges for the successful introduction of an improved EMR Regional timetable in December 2021. Work is ongoing to understand the knock-on implications for these long anticipated changes'.
There was a major consultation earlier in 2020 on the December 2020 timetable plans and HRU submitted a detailed response. See https://www.harborough-rail.org.uk/home/harborough-rail-users-respond-to-december-2020-timetable-consultation for more.
Send me a wire. Construction teams work on the platform extensions at Wellingborough on 11th March 2020 under the new overhead electrification, in preparation for electric services between London and Corby. These were due to start in December 2020 but the coronavirus pandemic has pushed this back to May 2021, with implications for the timetable changes planned for the whole Midland Main Line. (Picture: Steve Jones)
EMR have issued further updated travel advice as the lock-down is eased to allow non-essential shops to reopen from tomorrow, Monday 15th June. In summary:
Face coverings are mandatory - as they are for all public transport in England.
EMR advise that new station posters have been distributed and all EMR staff members have been issued with face coverings. They state that 'Wearing face coverings on trains will help to ensure that those who need to use public transport can do so with confidence. Use of face coverings will boost the other measures we have put in place to keep people safe, like more thorough cleaning, improved information on potential crowding and one-way systems at busier stations. We expect customers to wear face coverings as they enter our stations and on our trains. We will work closely with the British Transport Police to maintain a safe environment for our staff and customers.'
Social Distancing – EMR have produced a social distancing video 'to help guide our passengers on effective social distancing behaviours as they navigate through our stations and board our trains': https://youtu.be/N0wvLYHySZ0
More detail is on the EMR website: https://www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/
East Midlands Railway (EMR) have issued as update on social distancing and other precautions as the lock-down is slightly eased and passenger numbers may rise as a result. Some Government restrictions were eased on 1st June, and non-essential retail shops can re-open on 15th June, so activity is taking place across the rail network to ensure proper precautions are taken. EMR advise that all their 91 stations plus their train fleet display social distancing guidance, and staff have been briefed. Non-essential travel continues to be discouraged, however. Further information can be found on EMR’s website at https://www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/covid-19.
Our timetable at Market Harborough is back to near-normal levels and can be viewed here.