Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
The next open Committee meeting of HRU has been arranged for Monday 20th January, starting at 18:00, in the front bar of The Oat Hill pub restaurant on Kettering Road, Little Bowden. The main item on the agenda is the East Midlands Railway timetable consultation for December 2020. This is when the EMR Electrics service to Corby is due to start. The Intercity service - which serves Market Harborough - is also due to see significant alterations. Anyone with an interest in the train service from Market Harborough is welcome to attend.
Details of the consultation, and the opportunity to submit individual responses, can be found at https://www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/december2020. The consultation closes on 14th February 2020.
The new timetable came into operation on Sunday 15th December. There is hardly any change for our train service at Market Harborough. (Unlike some areas, such as Great Western, which sees major overhauls following further electrification work, for example.)
For us, there is only one significant alteration; the 18:34 from St Pancras on weekdays gains a Market Harborough stop (at 19:40). This plugs a previous 42-minute gap in the evening peak timetable; something we in Harborough Rail Users have wanted resolved for some time. As this train also calls at Kettering, this also addresses the very long previous gap in the evening peak service from there to Market Harborough. We lose our stop on the 19:01 from St Pancras, but the next following train for Market Harborough is at 19:04, three minutes later! Other than that, apart from minor re-timings by the odd minute here or there, there are no changes.
On a bright Sunday 15th December 2019, Meridian unit 222004 undertakes Market Harborough's first northbound departure in the new timetable with the 10:26 to Nottingham.
December 2020 sees significant changes to services on the Midland Main Line from St Pancras, which includes Market Harborough. The main change is the opening of the EMR Electric service between London and Corby, which doubles in frequency to two per hour each way. This brings the standard pattern of EMR train services out of St Pancras to six per hour in each direction, comprising:
This means that we retain two trains per hour in each direction. Southbound, they will all call at Kettering only, then fast to St Pancras. We shall have to change at Kettering to reach any other intermediate station between there and London. Passengers for Thameslink-only destinations such as Harpenden or St Albans will have to change twice. However, the peak-time bus connection between Wellingborough and Bedford will cease, as trains will be reinstated.
Northbound, our trains will all go to Nottingham, essentially as now. One per hour will be non-stop from Leicester; the other will call at Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway and Beeston. The only significant change from now is that the East Midlands Parkway stop transfers from the fast train to the stopping train.
We do not yet know the actual timings, of course, nor about any variations to this standard pattern during peak times or for early morning or late evening services. For example, some of our late evening northbound trains currently go to Derby or Leeds, as that is where the depots are.
Full details of the proposed timetable are available at:
Harborough Rail Users will be responding to the consultation. Please let us know if there is anything you would like us to take into account: use the Get in Touch facility on our website https://www.harborough-rail.org.uk/get-in-touch.html or email us at email@example.com
This is a public consultation, so the EMR website gives a facility for you to respond directly as well. The consultation closes on 15th February 2020.
And don’t forget, this is the timetable for December 2020 – a year away yet!
The much-heralded new timetable came into force on Sunday 20th May, with the full effect for most people on Monday 21st. It is the result of the introduction of the next phase of the Thameslink upgrade - itself not without controversy - and brings significant changes to EMT's main line services.
All timetables are inevitably a compromise but until the programme of upgrading work on the Midland Main Line is completed in 2020, there are some significant adverse effects for our services. We lose our peak-direction peak-time calls at Bedford and Luton, with a bus connection from Wellingborough to Bedford. (Luton passengers can double-back via Luton Airport Parkway). However, few of our peak trains call at Wellingborough, so the bus is of little use for people travelling from Bedford to Market Harborough.
We also lose some connectivity with Thameslink stations north of London and there are big gaps in local connections between Market Harborough and Kettering. Harborough Rail Users have raised these points with EMT, who have undertaken to review the timetable and see what improvements can be made at the next timetable change, in December.
Four members of the HRU committee met with EMT at the company’s Derby headquarters on 15th February, at EMT’s invitation. The purpose of the meeting was to review the timetable due to come into effect on 20th May alongside the next phase of the Thameslink upgrade programme. The increased Thameslink service puts pressure on track capacity and that means modifications to EMT services, including removal of Bedford and Luton (Town) calls from their peak-direction trains. For more detail, see 16th December 2017 entry below.
We had a very open and useful discussion with EMT’s Duncan Cale, Stakeholder Manager, and Michael Webb, Head of Train Planning & Access. We reviewed the planned timetable alongside the present one, including:
EMT noted our concerns and aspirations and, though their room for manoeuvre in the May 2018 timetable is limited, they undertook to consider the matters discussed. This plus operating experience will be considered in developing the December 2018 and May 2019 timetables.
We are grateful to EMT for the opportunity to discuss these matters so openly with them.