Usage of Market Harborough station continues to grow01st Dec 2017

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) publishes annual data on rail passenger numbers.  Figures published today, 1st December, showed that Market Harborough had further growth, with a total of 888,036 rail journeys beginning or ending at the station during 2016-17.  This is 2% up on last year and three times the 296,838 recorded in 1997-98; proof that if a good train service is provided, people will use it!


AGM sets the scene for the next year for HRU24th Nov 2017

Harborough Rail Users held their AGM last night, 23rd November.  As well as electing the committee for the forthcoming year, the group adopted a revised constitution.  This includes some updates and other provisions to reflect the working relationships and arrangements that have developed over the past few years, for example in HRU's dealings with the rail industry and with other transport pressure groups.

The AGM also reviewed the campaign topics for the next year.  Not surprisingly, these include the station upgrade, with particular reference to accessibility for the disabled plus amenities at platform level.  HRU will also be following developments with the next franchise, both in terms of the train service pattern and the quality of the next generation of rolling stock, especially now that electrification of the main line has been abandoned.


Rail Minister lobbied over access and facilities at rebuilt Harborough station16th Nov 2017

Harborough MP Neil O’Brien and HRU Chair Steve Jones met with Paul Maynard MP, the Under Secretary of State for Rail, Accessibility and HS2, on 14th November at the Houses of Parliament.  The meeting had been requested by Neil O'Brien to press the case for proper disabled access to be provided at the rebuilt Market Harborough station plus toilets on the new southbound platform.  The Department for Transport's Planning and Investment Manager for the Midland Main Line was also present.

Rather than go in with a long shopping list, running the risk of everything being lost in the detail, we focused on these two items.  However, the meeting also considered various aspects of the scheme, including the need for sufficient shelter on the platforms, and was very constructive.  Though he is the 'Rail Minister', Paul Maynard acknowledged that he has no powers to direct Network Rail as it is an arm's-length relationship.  However, he did undertake to write to them at senior level, supporting the case for proper disabled access and for toilets on the southbound side.  There is also the possibility that the specification for the next franchise may be a means of seeking additional enhancements to the station.  Franchise bids are assessed much more on quality than used to be the case. 

A further meeting with the Department for Transport and Network Rail at the station is to be arranged.  We hope that these enhancements to what is otherwise a great improvement at the station can be included.  This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring the station fully up to modern standards; let's not waste it!  Watch this space!


Date set for HRU AGM06th Nov 2017

Harborough Rail Users are holding their Annual General Meeting on Thursday 23rd November 2017 at the Roman Way Community Centre, Market Harborough.  The meeting starts at 8:00 pm.

 

As well as electing officers for the group for the forthcoming year, the meeting will consider relevant topics including: 

• The recent consultation on the next East Midlands rail franchise, which is due to start in August 2019.   

• The planned improvements to the station, with the new car park now under construction

• The announcement that electrification of the main line north from Kettering has been cancelled.  The Corby service is to be operated with electric trains but the inter-city service via Market Harborough will have ‘bi-mode’ trains (electric and, probably, diesel). Ironically, the electric power for the Corby service will be supplied from a new substation planned for installation at Braybrooke, which is only just over a mile south of Market Harborough!  It is expected that this means overhead wires to carry the power back along the line to Kettering North Junction.  We would like to see the electrification extended at least for the 'last mile' into Market Harborough. 

 

Anyone who cares about the local rail service, including timetables, train service quality and reliability, fares, access to the station and platforms and the quality of the facilities available, is invited to come along and get involved.


HRU responds to DfT consultation on next East Midlands rail franchise09th Oct 2017

Harborough Rail Users has submitted its response to the Department for Transport's consultation on the next East Midlands rail franchise.  At the last franchise change, Market Harborough was threatened with a severe reduction in its train service.  We campaigned hard to retain two trains an hour - and we succeeded.

This time, the exact nature of the train service is not so clear.  The main proposal is a split between electric 'London commuter' services to Corby and 'inter-city' bi-mode (electric plus probably diesel) trains for the rest of the route, with interchange between the two at Kettering.  Clearly, this is partly a consequence of the decision not to electrify north from Kettering. Quite where this would leave Market Harborough is not made clear.  However, there is much pressure to speed up the journeys between London and Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield.  A risk is that this can only realistically be done by cutting out intermediate station stops.  

During the current East Midlands Trains franchise, Market Harborough has had a good train service of one fast and one stopping service to London each hour, with some additional trains at peak times.  In essence, we want to retain a service of this kind.  We would want to retain the hourly fast trains, which have attracted substantial growth in usage, plus the hourly semi-fast stopping trains that provide good connectivity to other stations along the line.  Though London is the single most important destination, there is also a clear need for a direct service between Leicester, Market Harborough, Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford and Luton Airport Parkway.  In addition, there should be better connections at Kettering for the Corby service, especially northbound towards both Market Harborough and Leicester, for which the service is particularly poor at present.

We have also called for some enhancements to the planned remodelling of Market Harborough station, especially in terms of disabled access and better waiting shelter and toilets on both new platforms.

We now await the outcome of the consultation.  This is due in April 2018 when the invitation to tender is due to be issued to shortlisted bidders.

 


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