Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
The removal of the temporary toilet cabin back in September 2022 gave the opportunity for an improved layout of the station forecourt. This finally happened on 7th – 8th April 2023, when new white and yellow lines were marked out. Gone is the mini-roundabout, but reinstated is the ‘teardrop’ turning loop for taxis at the front of the main building. Five short-stay parking spaces have been laid out on the east side of the forecourt, backing onto the railway embankment, along with a more clearly defined walking route between the cycle hub and the approach footpath. We in Harborough Rail Users have been pressing for increased short-stay parking for some time, so it is good to see this happen. It has been suggested that the casual cycle parking in the black plastic ‘pods’ outside the cycle hub building are to be removed, to release another space for parking. We are concerned about this and have made representations for such provision to be provided. Cycle parking for occasional users is essential; the alternative is that people will just chain their bikes to anything fixed and could thereby create nuisance or even hazard. Subject to that, however, the revised forecourt is much better than the previous rather messy arrangements.
Freshly marked out: the new taxi rank arrangement at the front of the station on 7th April 2023.
Photo: Steve Jones
The long-awaited new cycle hub at Market Harborough station finally opened on Monday 16th November. It was jointly funded by the Department for Transport, East Midlands Railway and Harborough District Council through a programme managed by cycling promotion group Sustrans. It provides secure, weather-proof parking space for up to 140 bicycles. Users need a fob ‘key’, application forms for which are obtainable from the booking office at the station; there is a £10 deposit which is returnable when the fob is returned. The keys are time-limited to one year, though can be renewed. This is to prevent unused keys remaining in circulation indefinitely.
The location of the cycle hub building in the station forecourt has attracted some local controversy and HRU were involved in discussions about this. Other suggested locations in the new or old car park areas were ruled out, either for road safety reasons or because the land in question was not available. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the new facility is a major improvement on the rather ramshackle arrangements previously available, which were also vulnerable to cycle theft. Indeed, a man recently pleaded guilty to stealing four bicycles from the station in 2019.
A few cycle parking ‘pods’ remain in place outside the cycle hub building to provide bike parking for occasional users who may not wish to obtain a fob key.
After a pause resulting partly from Covid-19 interruptions, work has restarted on the cycle hub in the forecourt at Market Harborough station. Concrete has been poured for the substantial base for the new structure. Steelwork for the building, which will feature glazed walls, is awaited but is expected soon.
The picture below shows the enormous concrete pouring machine doing its thing in the station forecourt on Tuesday 9th June 2020. (Picture: Steve Jones)
Despite the reduction in the train service during the coronavirus emergency - or perhaps taking advantage of the reduced numbers of people travelling - work on the railway continues. On Monday 6th April, equipment was delivered to the forecourt at Market Harborough station and work has started on the cycle hub. This is a long-awaited improvement in facilities for cyclists at the station and we look forward to its completion. In the interim, some temporary cycle parking remains in the forecourt, roughly where the yellow dump-truck was in the photo below. Though we very much welcome the cycle hub, Harborough Rail Users have asked that provision also be made for occasional users who do not want to join the cycle hub scheme, so that they have a secure and sheltered space for their bikes.
Harborough MP Neil O'Brien took the opportunity during House of Commons Transport questions today, 18th July, to ask the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Andrew Jones MP) about the intended cycle hub for Market Harborough station:
'East Midlands Trains, my local rail users group and I are bidding for funds for a cycle hub at Market Harborough railway station. The Minister, who has recently visited, knows that many more people are taking that healthy way to the station in the morning. Will he look favourably on our bid?'
Replying, the Minister said:
'I thoroughly enjoyed my recent visit to Market Harborough to see the work taking place there: the significant upgrade to services, the straightening of the line and a new station. The new east midlands franchise will deliver over £17 million of investment in station facilities across the route, including extra cycle spaces, 100 of which will be delivered at Market Harborough. I am very happy to champion that, and to encourage smooth and early delivery.'
We now look forward to rapid progress towards implementation of this long-awaited scheme to provide more, better quality and more secure cycle parking arrangements at the station.