East Midlands Trains franchise extended to August 201920th Feb 2019

Though the next franchise is not due to start until 19th August 2019, the previous East Midlands Trains (EMT) contract was due to expire on 2nd March!  Accordingly, the Department for Transport (DfT) and Stagecoach Group have agreed a direct award extension for EMT to cover the interim period.  The next franchise operator is due to be announced by the DfT in April.  However, if there is any delay, the direct award has an option in it for further extension for up to six 'reporting periods' of four weeks each, i.e. 24 weeks, to February 2020.  The direct award includes:

  • £150,000 investment in accessibility improvements at stations
  • A simplified process for Delay Repay compensation for late trains
  • A mobile phone app giving real-time information on train running plus facilities for booking and paying for tickets
  • On-board 4G WiFi, with 15 minutes' free use in standard class 
  • Continued preparation for the next franchise, with particular reference to provision of greater capacity.

We in Harborough Rail Users look forward to working with EMT over this period of transition pending appointment of the next operator of our service.



Coffee Kiosk van now open at car park entrance02nd Jan 2019

The new year saw the opening of the coffee kiosk van at the platform entrance from the new car park.  This is operated by the Engine Room Cafe, who run the existing facility in the station booking hall.  It is very welcome and provides a range of teas, coffees and light snacks for those using the car park but who may not have time to go down to main cafe in the booking hall.  Opening hours are 05:30 - 09:30, for the morning peak.  We wish it every success.

Lib-Dem leader Sir Vince Cable visits Market Harborough station 13th Dec 2018

Sir Vince Cable, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, arrived at Market Harborough by train on Thursday 6th December for a 'question time' engagement in the town.  Harborough Rail Users were invited to meet him at the station, to discuss the rebuilding of the station and the associated concerns about accessibility.  We showed him what is happening, and explained the additional facilities we are campaigning for.  His train from St Pancras was one of the non-stop HSTs, which gave us the opportunity to tell him about the campaign to save the half-hourly train service when the East Midlands franchise was first set up in 2006-7.  It is an interesting example of a local community-led campaign achieving something that surpassed even its own ambitions, as we never anticipated an hourly non-stop service to and from London!

Market Harborough station usage growth continues - just!13th Dec 2018

The government’s Office of Rail and Road (ORR) publishes annual data on rail passenger numbers. Market Harborough saw further growth, with a modest increase of 0.7% to a total of 894,320 rail journeys beginning or ending at the station during 2017-18.  This is over three times the 296,838 recorded in 1997-98; proof that if a good train service is provided, people will use it!

Campaign Topics reaffirmed at HRU AGM - 29th November 201806th Dec 2018

At the 2018 AGM on 29th November, Harborough Rail Users reviewed the past year’s activities and set the scene for campaign topics for the next year. 

Important decisions will be made over the next few months that will have a major effect on our station and train services for many years to come.


The main issues for Harborough Rail Users are:

  1. Market Harborough station, including the Access for All improvements and track realignment.  The new platforms are beginning to take shape and some of the new track has been laid.  It will be a major improvement on the present station, but we will continue to press for better access arrangements from the booking hall to the new platforms, better shelter, provision of facilities such as toilets for the southbound platform, and the promised cycle hub. 
  2. The next East Midlands franchise.  We have submitted our detailed response to the Department for Transport consultation.  We have also met all three companies who are bidding and have given them details of what we hope to see in the next franchise, which is due to start in August 2019.   The government’s specification retains our essential two trains per hour service in each direction throughout the day. We need to retain a good mix of fast and stopping trains, combining regular fast services to London with stopping trains giving good connectivity to intermediate stations such as Kettering, Bedford and Luton Airport Parkway, plus good connections for Corby.  We have called for some timetable improvements such as earlier trains northbound in the morning, including Sundays, and later last trains southbound in the evenings.  The franchise specification requires the reinstatement of peak-time trains between Wellingborough and Bedford ‘as soon as reasonably practical’.
  3. Electrification.  Though the scheme for the whole line north of Kettering has been cancelled, we await the decision on whether overhead wires or an underground conduit will be used to connect the Corby line electrification to the planned power substation at Braybrooke.  If overhead lines are to be installed, a further decision is awaited on whether that would then be extended for ‘the last mile’ into Market Harborough.  On a related note, decisions are awaited on rolling stock.  The franchise specification requires a new fleet of bi-mode trains for the main line, to be fully in service by the end of 2023.  We shall be taking a keen interest in the specifications for any new bi-mode or other trains that may be ordered.  There also remains the question of replacing or modifying the present HSTs to make them compliant with accessibility and other regulations that come into force in 2020, three years before full introduction of any new stock.

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