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.

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:  

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

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!

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