Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
During the rebuilding of the station in summer 2019, the old Harborough Rail Users noticeboard disappeared. It was on the approach wall to the subway and was an important means of communicating the activities of HRU to the users of the station. Repeated enquiries never identified what happened to it! However, EMR agreed to provide a replacement, and this was installed on 21st September 2021, next to the position of the old one. We are grateful to EMR for providing this.
Out with the old, in with the new. On the left, the new HRU noticeboard installed by EMR on the subway wall on 21st September 2021. The grubby area of paintwork just beyond it is where the old one was, seen in the rather murky picture on the right, taken on 27th May 2019, just after the departure of the last train from the old platforms prior to the rebuilding. No-one seems to know what happened to it!
Pictures: Steve Jones
Long-awaited renovation works on the Victorian main building and the ramp up to Platform 1 were in progress in late August. With the recent emphasis on the new construction at platform level, the older part of the station was getting rather shabby and in need of some TLC. On 24th August, there was evidence of that happening, with some replacement windows on the covered ramp up from the booking office, where timber had become quite rotten. Work was also in hand on the sash windows on the upper floor of the main building frontage. Market Harborough's main building is an absolute architectural gem and deserves to be kept in good repair.
Work in progress: old windows removed and a new sill fitted on the covered ramp at Market Harborough station, 24th August 2021. (Photo: Steve Jones)
Later that same day: new windows fitted (2nd, 3rd and 4th from left) on the covered ramp, in an authentic style. Note the broad metal-edged kerb at the foot of the wall; this was used as a brake for slowing heavy luggage and parcels trolleys on their way down from the platform in days gone by! (Photo: Steve Jones)
The lovely frontage of Market Harborough station on 24th August 2021. The left-hand section of the centre-right double window on the first floor was undergoing repair work.
(Photo: Steve Jones)
Revisions have been made to the station forecourt area. The area previously occupied by a temporary toilet block has been marked out with six disabled parking bays, and the taxis have been moved to a small area on the opposite side, next to the railway embankment; this area remains constrained by the new temporary toilets.
Harborough Rail Users have asked about plans for the forecourt once the temporary toilets have been replaced by a new permanent facility at platform level. One serious limitation at the station is the almost complete absence of short-stay parking; that at the entrance to the main car park only has four bays and is clearly marked 'Drop off only - no waiting'. That makes it unavailable for anyone arriving by car to meet someone off a train. The forecourt currently only has two general-use parking bays (complete with the ludicrous Pay & Display machine!). Given the sheer scale of the main car park, it is extraordinary that a station serving a large car-dependent rural catchment area has such inadequate short-stay parking! We shall continue to pursue this with EMR.
We would also like to see a barrier installed on the edge of the pavement immediately outside the main building entrance doors. This would channel people leaving the station onto the pavements to left and right, and thereby, for example, stop children running out into the vehicle area.
Revised parking arrangements: new disabled parking bays outside the main building at Market Harborough station.
We await details of further revisions to the layout of the station forecourt once the temporary toilet block has been replaced by a new facility at platform level.
Picture: Steve Jones
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.
Every year, excellence and achievements in the rail industry are celebrated in the National Rail Awards, the ‘Railway Oscars’. There are numerous categories reflecting achievements in railway operations, customer service, business innovation and many others. One of these is Infrastructure Achievement of the Year and the 2020 winner was contractor Amey Rail for the Market Harborough Line Speed and Station Improvement project. This is a major accolade and we congratulate the teams involved in transforming our station at track and platform level plus the new car park.