Harborough rail users
Improving the quality of Market Harborough's rail service
Following revisions to the Government's advice on the coronavirus lockdown, EMR have announced changes to train services from Monday 18th May. This is part of national step-up of services after the severe reductions that have been place since March. However, the advice is still that all passengers continue to follow Government travel advice and only travel if it is absolutely necessary.
The timetable pattern for the Midland Main Line, which serves Market Harborough, is as follows from 18th May until further notice:
2 Trains Per Hour each way between London and Sheffield:
Pending the publication of the actual timetables on the EMR website, we assume the Nottingham trains will all call at Market Harborough. Calling patterns may differ during AM and PM peak periods.
A consequence of the changed timetable from Monday 18th May is that the peak-time calls at Bedford and Luton, which had been temporarily reinstated since March, will again be withdrawn and the bus connections from Wellingborough reinstated. The reason is that social distancing is easier if Bedford and Luton peak passengers use Thameslink rather than EMR services; the tiny numbers likely to use the Wellingborough buses mean that distancing between passengers is not a problem.
Circa 80% of services will operate Monday to Saturday, with selected off-peak reductions compared to normal.
Services on all routes will operate throughout the normal hours of operation, with early and late services reinstated on routes where limited opening hours are currently in place.
Liverpool-Norwich services will re-commence operating between Sheffield and Liverpool, with a small number of off-peak cancellations on the route. Services between Nottingham and Worksop will operate hourly, calling at all intermediate stations.
Sunday services will continue to operate at current reduced levels.
Along with all train operators, EMR are introducing various social distancing measures to protect passengers and staff so far as is possible during this time. These measures include new signs at stations and on trains advising passengers about keeping two metres apart; some changes to entrances and exits at larger stations; marked out queuing arrangements at booking offices and ticket barriers; encouragement to use contactless card payments if buying tickets at stations; cordoning-off adjacent seats and ticket machines at stations; removal of leaflets; and regular cleaning of 'touch surfaces'. However, they acknowledge that it is up to passengers to conduct themselves sensibly; train company staff cannot physically enforce the rules for everyone and we all have a part to play. On-train catering and seat reservations remain suspended. EMR advise that all the procedures and rules remain under constant review and are subject to change.
Services have been running well so far during the lock-down period, with high levels of punctuality achieved. However, though numbers are beginning increase, there has been a massive reduction in usage of our trains; the picture below shows the car park at Market Harborough completely empty, though admittedly it was on a Sunday, 3rd May.
Despite the reduction in the train service during the coronavirus emergency - or perhaps taking advantage of the reduced numbers of people travelling - work on the railway continues. On Monday 6th April, equipment was delivered to the forecourt at Market Harborough station and work has started on the cycle hub. This is a long-awaited improvement in facilities for cyclists at the station and we look forward to its completion. In the interim, some temporary cycle parking remains in the forecourt, roughly where the yellow dump-truck was in the photo below. Though we very much welcome the cycle hub, Harborough Rail Users have asked that provision also be made for occasional users who do not want to join the cycle hub scheme, so that they have a secure and sheltered space for their bikes.
EMR have advised that weekday peak-time Bedford calls are to be reinstated on certain trains, from as soon as tomorrow morning (Thursday 26th March). The thinning out of train services has enabled Network Rail to respond swiftly to EMR's request to do this. The relevant trains are:
Though this is an additional stop for our trains to and from London, it will be a big - albeit temporary - improvement for those travelling to and from Bedford.
EMR state that the situation is under constant review and timetables may therefore change week by week. They will publish details on their website:
The Department for Transport has announced that it will temporarily suspend normal rail franchise agreements and transfer all revenue and cost risk to the government for a limited period, initially six months. Under ‘Emergency Measures Agreements’, train operators will continue to run services day-to-day for a small predetermined management fee. For any operator not wishing to do this, the government’s ‘Operator of Last Resort’ stands ready to step in.
Alongside today's announcement, the Government has also confirmed that it will support the refund of Advance rail tickets and time unused on rail season tickets free of administration charges.
Further information is available at:
and the written statement to Parliament by the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, is available at:
HRU welcomes measures to ensure that as good a train service as possible is maintained during this unprecedented crisis. We offer our best wishes to all EMR staff engaged in delivering this service for those key workers in the NHS and elsewhere who depend on it.
How long before we are back to normal? A Meridian and an HST call simultaneously at Market Harborough on 3rd September 2019, before any of us had even heard of COVID-19.
Picture: Steve Jones
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop and day-to-day life continues to wind down for the time being, the UK rail industry has announced reductions to train services. EMR has announced that EMR Intercity services will be reduced from start of service on Monday 23rd March to:
This service pattern will be in place until further notice. There will be reductions also to the EMR Regional services. The intention, however, is to ensure all stations and lines of route remain open.
To quote EMR: 'The railway is not exempt from the effects of the virus but also has a critical role to play in supporting the country at this difficult time. This includes helping vital key workers continue to travel as well as responsibly following Government guidance to fight the spread of the virus.'
Further information including actual timetables will be published on the EMR website: https://www.eastmidlandsrailway.co.uk/reduced-timetable.