Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
Harborough Rail Users has submitted its response to the Department for Transport's consultation on the next East Midlands rail franchise. At the last franchise change, Market Harborough was threatened with a severe reduction in its train service. We campaigned hard to retain two trains an hour - and we succeeded.
This time, the exact nature of the train service is not so clear. The main proposal is a split between electric 'London commuter' services to Corby and 'inter-city' bi-mode (electric plus probably diesel) trains for the rest of the route, with interchange between the two at Kettering. Clearly, this is partly a consequence of the decision not to electrify north from Kettering. Quite where this would leave Market Harborough is not made clear. However, there is much pressure to speed up the journeys between London and Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield. A risk is that this can only realistically be done by cutting out intermediate station stops.
During the current East Midlands Trains franchise, Market Harborough has had a good train service of one fast and one stopping service to London each hour, with some additional trains at peak times. In essence, we want to retain a service of this kind. We would want to retain the hourly fast trains, which have attracted substantial growth in usage, plus the hourly semi-fast stopping trains that provide good connectivity to other stations along the line. Though London is the single most important destination, there is also a clear need for a direct service between Leicester, Market Harborough, Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford and Luton Airport Parkway. In addition, there should be better connections at Kettering for the Corby service, especially northbound towards both Market Harborough and Leicester, for which the service is particularly poor at present.
We have also called for some enhancements to the planned remodelling of Market Harborough station, especially in terms of disabled access and better waiting shelter and toilets on both new platforms.
We now await the outcome of the consultation. This is due in April 2018 when the invitation to tender is due to be issued to shortlisted bidders.