Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
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.
MAY 2018 TIMETABLE Introduction of new Thameslink timetable results in changes to East Midlands Trains services
East Midlands Trains (EMT) have announced some significant changes to train services from 20 May 2018. This is because of the introduction of a new Thameslink timetable, which will see 18 trains per hour (tph) through the central London Thameslink tunnel. As most of these will run onto the Midland Main Line towards Luton and Bedford, there will be pressure on track capacity until upgrade work is completed in 2020.
Full details remain unknown until the new timetable is made available in February 2018.
However, EMT have stated that:
"From the timetable change on 20 May 2018 until the completion of the Midland Main Line Upgrade in 2020, East Midlands Trains peak-time services to and from London will no longer call at Bedford or Luton. Direct East Midlands Trains rail services will continue to run from Leicestershire and Northamptonshire to London, and will continue to call at Luton Airport Parkway throughout the day. Off-peak and weekend services will continue to call at Bedford and Luton. During the morning peak, northbound services from Bedford and Luton will continue, and during the evening peak, southbound services to London will still call at Bedford and Luton.
Customers using East Midlands Trains services to commute from the north to Bedford during peak hours will be provided with an alternative, fully accessible coach service that will connect with rail services at Wellingborough. This will run every 30 minutes between Wellingborough and Bedford and any monthly or annual season ticket holders using the replacement coach service will be eligible for a 50% discount on their season ticket."
The main effects for Market Harborough are:
In May 2016, East Midlands Trains invited us to contribute to the consultation on the timetable from December 2016.
We responded by restating our aspirations for the timetable, especially regarding the gap in the evening peak service from London and the need for a later last southbound train and an earlier first train arrival in Nottingham on weekdays. We also called for an earlier northbound train on Sundays and better connections with other services at interchange stations.