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.
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!
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
The reorganisation of local government in Northamptonshire means that the County and all the District Councils will be replaced by two new unitary councils from 1st April 2021: West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire. In preparation for this, there has been consultation on the West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan, looking at planning and infrastructure for the area. It includes a proposal to reopen the line between Market Harborough and Northampton as part of ‘North–South Rail’. As well as providing a useful local connection, it would be part of a valuable inter-regional route linking Nottingham, Derby and Leicester with Northampton, Milton Keynes and, potentially, Heathrow Airport via the planned Crossrail and HS2 interchange at Old Oak Common in west London. It would also complement 'East-West Rail', which is planned to reinstate the rail link between Oxford, Bedford and Cambridge.
As the section of the line within Market Harborough has been lost to redevelopment, a short new section would need to be built around the outskirts of the town. Provision would also need to be made to replace the popular Brampton Valley Way footpath and cycle track along the route. Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps MP, has stated that he is 'very supportive' of the idea. Harborough Rail Users will consider the proposal at its forthcoming AGM on 11th November. However, in response to requests for interviews by local press and radio, HRU Chair Steve Jones gave his personal support for a line that would fill a major gap in the region's rail services. Though the consultation is now closed, further information can be found at:
The commemorative last train stands at the platform at Market Harborough before departing for the final run back to Northampton, stopping at the sites of some of the intermediate stations, 15th August 1981.
Harborough Rail Users are holding their Annual General Meeting on Monday 11th November 2019 in Room 5 at the Roman Way Community Centre, Market Harborough. The meeting starts at 8:00 pm.
As well as electing officers for the group for the forthcoming year, the meeting will consider relevant topics including: