Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
EMR have announced that the much-anticipated extension to the station car park is due to open on Sunday 15th December 2019. This will provide an extra 200 spaces, bringing the total to 500. The existing 300-space car park is regularly full by early morning, with excess cars parking in nearby residential roads, or on a non-railway 'overflow' car park that is well named as it regularly floods!
Work is also under way around the subway steps and the southern end of the southbound platform, so we hope that opens soon as well.
At the 2019 AGM on 11th November, Harborough Rail Users reviewed the past year’s activities and set the scene for campaign topics for the next year.
A busy year
The past year has particularly busy, dominated by the major reconstruction of the station and the franchise changeover from Stagecoach East Midlands Trains (EMT) to Abellio East Midlands Railway (EMR). Debate has continued about electrification, though we now have greater clarity about future rolling stock for the line. HRU has also dealt both with day-to-day matters concerning the train service, and much longer-term matters such as the recent proposal to reopen the line to Northampton.
Again, HRU has played a full part in consultations and has maintained contact with relevant organisations including the rail industry, local authorities, local elected representatives, and transport user representative groups. The willingness of EMT, EMR, Network Rail and others to meet and discuss various matters was noted, as was the continued support of the local MP and councillors in pressing for further improvements. The HRU Committee were thanked for all their help and support throughout the year.
Campaign priorities for the year ahead
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.
Network Rail have released a time-lapse video of the 2019 line upgrade work at Market Harborough, showing the main stages of the project from installation of the footbridge back in February 2019 to the first train on 3rd June. It can be seen at https://vimeo.com/insideoutgrp/mmluprademarketharboroughjune2019.
The temporary speed restrictions through the station have now been removed, allowing trains not stopping to pass through at speed.
The Rail Minister, Andrew Jones MP, visited Market Harborough station on 27th June. He was on his way to Leicester to meet regional transport agency Midlands Connect to receive their Business Case for the ‘Midlands Rail Hub’ programme of rail investments. He took the opportunity to stop off at Market Harborough and view our station. Harborough MP Neil O'Brien was also there, plus representatives of Network Rail, East Midlands Trains and the Leicester & Leicestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LLEP).
HRU Chair Steve Jones was invited to meet the Minister, and we spoke about the major improvements already made but also the need for additional enhancements to accessibility, cycle parking, toilets and platform canopies. Electrification was also mentioned, along with the planned new rolling stock. The Minister is plainly enthusiastic about the investment going into the railway nationally and it was good to have the opportunity to meet him and discuss local rail issues with him. The picture shows the Minister being interviewed by local radio station HfM.
A full press release from the Department for Transport can be viewed at www.gov.uk/government/news/53-million-line-upgrade-to-help-make-midlands-railways-fit-for-the-future.