Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
On 17th January, EMR withdrew eight train services from the Intercity timetable, seven of which called at Market Harborough. This was because of Covid-related staff shortages; the planned reduction in the timetable being preferable to ad hoc cancellations of trains day by day. On 23rd February, EMR announced the reinstatement of these trains from Monday 28th February. In addition, many other services on their Regional network on Sundays will be reinstated from 27th February. We are pleased that these cutbacks, which have led to some overcrowding on the remaining services either side of the cancelled trains, have been reversed.
The reinstated trains are:
Normal service to be resumed.
Two EMR Intercity services call at
Market Harborough on 5th February 2022.
Photo: Steve Jones
EMR have advised that there are to be some temporary reductions in the timetable from Monday 17th January because of Covid-related staff shortages. In a letter to stakeholders on 11th January, they said:
“EMR, like other rail operators and other industries, is experiencing high levels of Covid-related absence among its workforce. In addition, Government advice to work from home means passenger demand is also very low.
Short notice cancellations are incredibly frustrating and something we are determined to avoid as much as possible. To help, we are removing approximately 4% of our services. This means we can protect those which are important for customers who are still travelling and provide a more reliable service.
These changes will remain under constant review and amendments will be made as needed. You can find details of specific trains and routes on our website here: https://www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/amended-timetable
Owing to this, the handful of services that were planned to be reinstated on Monday 3rd January 2022 were not reinstated and instead form part of the list of amendments; as detailed in the route specifics on the webpage above.
Given the week-by-week nature of the reductions, online journey planners will be updated on a weekly basis.”
For us in Market Harborough, the affected (ie temporarily cancelled) trains are all on weekdays. The following trains will not run.
There are no planned alterations to weekend services.
The situation is subject to weekly review.
Reduced train service. The 15:03 to Nottingham is seen from the subway steps at Market Harborough on 13th January. This train is not one of those temporarily removed from the timetable.
Photo: Steve Jones
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)