Meeting with Harborough Disabled Access Group and HDC Councillor Phil Knowles – 11th October11th Oct 2018

Steve Jones and Cliff Taylor of HRU met Phil Baildon of the Harborough Disabled Access Group and HDC Cllr Phil Knowles at the station on 11th October.  We discussed the station realignment scheme now work is under way on site, plus current plans and our respective aspirations for disabled access improvements at the station.  The meeting was prompted by the recent closure of the barrow crossing, plus assurances received from Network Rail about the design of the new footbridge and lifts at the station.  We confirmed that we share the same aspirations to ensure that the station will be fully fit for purpose once complete, including the additional features we seek.  A further meeting will be held with Network Rail in due course.


DfT announces next tranche of Access for All funding19th Sep 2018

On 17th September 2018, Nusrat Ghani MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, wrote to all MPs outlining the latest allocation of funds under the Access for All programme.  This sets aside £300m for access improvements to railway stations as part of the government's Inclusive Transport Strategy, launched on 25th July.  The funding covers Network Rail's 'Control Period 6' (CP6): the five years from 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2024.  Bids for funds must be made by 'Local Delivery Groups' (LDGs), which usually means the local train operator and Network Rail.  The deadline for bids is 16th November 2018, with the results announced in April 2019.

Market Harborough has already had an allocation of Access for All funds for the planned footbridge with lifts; this is due to be built with the new platforms on the straightened line in 2019.  However, we seek further enhancements to the station's accessibility, in the form of:

  • A lift between the booking office and the platforms
  • Toilets on the new southbound platform.

Neither of these are included in current plans, though the DfT and Network Rail are reviewing the costs and benefits.

We in Harborough Rail Users have been liaising with Harborough MP Neil O'Brien about all this and he has written to East Midlands Trains seeking a meeting.  This is a first step towards getting a bid submitted for the additional enhancements to bring our increasingly busy station up to fully accessible modern standards. If recent growth trends continue, especially with all the new housing being built in the area, it will not be long before Market Harborough station sees over a million passenger journeys a year!  We need a station that fully matches that level of business!

Further information is on the DfT website at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/access-for-all-programme

and Network Rail https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/passengers/station-improvements/access-for-all/ 

 

 


EMT consults on proposed closure of barrow crossing at Market Harborough station16th Aug 2018

For well over 100 years, there has been a barrow-crossing across the tracks at the south end of the platforms at Market Harborough.  However, with the opening of the new car park and step-free access to the southbound platform, the need to take disabled passengers across at track level from one platform to the other is much reduced.  This crossing is the last one on the whole line and there is a strong desire to close it and remove the obvious risk it involves. 

However, the need for all passengers to be able to transfer from one platform to the other remains.  Until the new footbridge is built (summer 2019), EMT are proposing a free accessible taxi between the respective station entrances.  This will be a temporary arrangement until the new bridge is open.  

In principle, HRU welcome the closure of the crossing as it is an anachronism on a busy main line in 2018.  However, we have sought assurances that the taxi arrangement will be properly accessible and user-friendly.  We do not want passengers to have to wait unduly and certainly not risk missing their trains.  EMT have undertaken to put in hand such arrangements. 

Further details are at: https://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk/information/media/news/marketharborough/  


HRU meets the franchise bidders25th Jul 2018

In issuing the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the next East Midlands franchise, the Department for Transport (DfT) has set out the essential specification for our train service from August 2019.  Harborough Rail Users have therefore had final consultation meetings with all three bidders on the shortlist: Abellio, Arriva and Stagecoach.

We had met all three before the ITT was issued and they have had details of our aspirations for the train service and the Market Harborough station.  We took the opportunity to bring to their attention our full response to the DfT's own consultation and talk with each about that and the ITT.  Our approach is completely independent and impartial; we want the best possible train service for Market Harborough, irrespective of who provides it.

Franchise bidding is, of course, a competitive process and therefore the companies are as yet unable to share any plans they may have.  Similarly, the discussions we had with them were conducted in full recognition of commercial confidentiality.  Their bids must be submitted by 5th September 2018 and the outcome will be made known by the DfT in March or April 2019.  We now await the outcome!

 


Official opening of new station car park: 6th July 201806th Jul 2018

Though it actually opened to the public on 18th June, the new car park had its official opening today, 6th July.  In attendance were Harborough MP, Neil O'Brien, representatives of Network Rail, East Midlands Trains, the Leicester & Leicester Local Enterprise Partnership (LLEP - one of the funding bodies for the whole realignment scheme) plus Steve Jones, Chair of Harborough Rail Users.  There was a press photocall to record the event.

The completion of the car park is the first stage of the realignment and rebuilding of the station and the line through it.  The old car park, on the west side of the line, has closed and this releases the site for the track realignment to take place.  Some work north of the station has already been done, with the trackbed largely cleared, and ballast, sleepers and rail delivered.  Some track has already been laid.  Most of the work can be completed 'off-line', without affecting the operation of the existing railway alongside.  However, a track closure will be required for a few days in 2019 so that the new track and platforms can be connected up and open in May.  Once that happens, the car park can then be extended with a further 200 spaces over the land currently occupied by the existing track and platforms.


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Steve Jones and Cliff Taylor of HRU met Phil Baildon of the Harborough Disabled Access Group and HDC Cllr Phil Knowles at the station on 11th Octob.. more