Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
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
In the new timetable starting on 12th December 2021, the last three Intercity trains from St Pancras on weekdays (23:05, 23:35 and 00:15 from St Pancras) are diverted via Corby, with bus connections from Kettering for Market Harborough. This is to allow for overnight engineering work in connection with electrifying the line from Kettering. As this arrangement is in place for the whole of the present timetable and beyond, we in Harborough Rail Users queried this with EMR. They have confirmed that it is planned to continue at least until December 2023. In the circumstances, it is understandable, and we hope the lengthy duration reflects the anticipated continuation of electrification beyond Market Harborough, as promised in the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan.
On the buses. Rail replacement buses wait at Market Harborough for services to Kettering and Leicester on 18th December 2021 during a weekend line closure for engineering work. Late night trains at Market Harborough during the week are diverted via Corby, with bus connections from Kettering, until the end of next year at least.
Photo: Steve Jones
The winter timetables across the national rail network came into operation on Sunday 12th December 2021. For Market Harborough, there is little change from the previous timetable, though there are some alterations to late night and very early morning trains because of engineering work.
The timetable for our line is attached below, and all timetables are available from the Network Rail website at https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/the-timetable/electronic-national-rail-timetable/.
Sunday 16th May saw the commencement of the new timetable, with the standard weekday pattern of services starting on Monday 17th. The biggest change is on the Corby services, which become a largely self-contained service of electric trains branded 'EMR Connect'. It runs twice an hour in each direction between Corby and London St Pancras, calling at Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford, Luton and Luton Airport Parkway. In doing so, it also serves as the ‘Luton Airport Express’, complementing similar shuttles for the other London airports. It also relieves the Intercity services, which serve Market Harborough, of their intermediate calls south of Kettering. With a few peak-time exceptions, our trains therefore nearly all call at Kettering only on their way to and from London. This gives a half-hourly connection to all the main intermediate stations, addressing concerns we have expressed about gaps in the timetable from Kettering in particular. It also means the bus link between Wellingborough and Bedford can be withdrawn.
Blue sparks: A Class 360 electric EMR Connect train at Corby, on the official ‘launch’ day, Monday 17th May, though they had been running on Sunday 16th. EMR Connect serves the intermediate stations south of Kettering, enabling Market Harborough’s EMR Intercity services to run non-stop between Kettering and London.
Photo: Steve Jones
The basic daytime pattern is now from Market Harborough to London at xx:26 and xx57 each hour (with minor variations), and roughly xx:03 and xx:32 to Leicester and Nottingham.
There are other improvements, including an earlier first train into London, a more even spread of services out of London in the evening peak, and a later last train south from Derby and Leicester in the evenings.
However, with few exceptions, we lose our non-stop trains to and from London, and direct services to Luton Airport Parkway. We also would like to see an earlier first train north on a Sunday morning than the present 10:29.
We also lose our HSTs; replaced by Meridians released by the electric trains on the Corby route, plus the small fleet of Class 180 units transferred a few months ago from Hull Trains.
Sadly, the Saturday through train to York no longer runs. However, if you fancy a slightly different mini-excursion, you can take a weekday lunchtime round trip from Kettering via Corby and Oakham to Melton Mowbray and back. This gives the opportunity to travel over the iconic Welland Viaduct at Harringworth. However, it does not run on Wednesdays!
The full timetable is available here on EMR’s website.
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."