New station car park opens: 18th June 201819th Jun 2018

The first major step towards the rebuilding of Market Harborough station was achieved on Monday 18th June with the opening of the new car park. This is actually phase 1, with 300 spaces to replace the old car park on the west side of the line.  The old car park has now closed, releasing its site for the work to start on the new track and platforms.  Some preliminary track-work has been done just north of Station Road bridge and the whole scheme is due for completion in May 2019, when the present curved track alignment and platforms will close.  Once that happens, the car park will be extended by a further 200 spaces (phase 2) on the land currently occupied by the track and platforms.

The new car park provides step-free access to the southbound platform.  It is a long way round, however, and we continue to campaign for a lift to link the booking office with the new platforms. 

It is intended that a coffee kiosk van will soon be provided at the new entrance between the new car park and the platform.  Landscaping work is also planned around the entrance and approach road.


DfT publishes Invitation to Tender for East Midlands franchise07th Jun 2018

The Department for Transport has today published the Invitation to Tender for the next franchise for the services currently run by East Midlands Trains.  There is a lot of information, which can be found on the DfT website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/east-midlands-franchise-2018-invitation-to-tender  

A significant document is the Stakeholder Briefing Document.  This summarises the responses to the public consultation: 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/714448/east-midlands-rail-franchise-stakeholder-briefing-document-and-consultation-response.pdf 

Market Harborough is named as one of the top five stations in terms of responses!  There is even a picture of the Old Grammar School on p76!  However, it is the detail that matters...

HRU will be reviewing the documents in detail to see exactly what is proposed for our train service.

 


Meeting with franchise bidder Stagecoach and Neil O’Brien MP: 1st June 201804th Jun 2018

Stagecoach Rail requested a meeting with Harborough MP Neil O’Brien, and HRU Chair Steve Jones was invited to join them.  Stagecoach operate the current East Midlands Trains franchise. However, as the bid teams are required to work entirely separately from the operational staff, we met in the coffee bar at Harborough District Council's Symington Building, on 1st June.   

All of the bidders are meeting interested parties throughout the franchise area to gather information that will help them in preparing their bids.  Though in no position to tell us their own plans or proposals, they are interested in local information and opinions about the rail service, both as it now is and the improvements we would like to see.  We discussed our aspirations for the train service, new rolling stock, the station enhancements and the Midland Main Line upgrade. 

This meeting means we have now met all three of the remaining potential bidders.  The Invitation to Tender (ITT) is expected in early June from the Department for Transport and we now eagerly await what it says for our train service.  We hope it contains good news!


May 2018 timetable22nd May 2018

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.  Passengers to Luton can double-back via Luton Airport Parkway.  However, few of our evening peak trains call at Wellingborough, so the bus is of little use for people travelling from Bedford to Market Harborough.  As a compromise pending further timetable changes, we have called for a similar double-back fare option via Luton Airport Parkway.

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 keep the timetable under review and see what improvements can be made at the next revision, in December 2018.  


Meeting with franchise bidder Abellio at the station: 25th April 201826th Apr 2018

Following a meeting between franchise bidder Abellio and Harborough MP Neil O'Brien on 9th March, at which HRU was represented, Abellio offered a second meeting with the HRU Committee and this took place at the station on 25th April.  

We discussed the station and HRU's aspirations for it including a lift between the booking office and the platforms; toilets and canopies on both platforms; facilities for cyclists; and the potential for greater use of the main building for community-related purposes. Abellio listened to these ideas positively and undertook to include as many of them in its proposals as it could.

On a related but different note, on the day before, 24th April, bidder First + Trenitalia pulled out of the East Midlands competition to concentrate on their bid for the West Coast Partnership franchise.  That left three bidders, with Abellio and Arriva plus present operator, Stagecoach.  We now await the Invitation to Tender, due to be issued by the DfT in May, to see what the specification for our train service will be.

 


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The first major step towards the rebuilding of Market Harborough station was achieved on Monday 18th June with the opening of the new car park.&nbs.. more