Harborough rail group says plan to reopen historic line is a 'excellent idea'

Moves to reopen the historic Market Harborough-Northampton railway line are being backed by a local rail passengers’ chief.

Tuesday, 29th October 2019, 1:20 pm
Photo credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - Malc McDonald - geograph.org.uk/p/5862342
Photo credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - Malc McDonald - geograph.org.uk/p/5862342

Steve Jones, chair of Harborough Rail Users, said the “exciting” innovative breakthrough would give regional train services a huge shot in the arm.

As we reported yesterday (Monday), Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the House of Commons he was “very supportive” of the scheme to bring the 160-year-old line back to life.

The key 14-mile Victorian stretch of line was last used by passengers on August 26, 1973 and shut for good in 1981.

Mr Jones, 59, told the Harborough Mail: “This is an excellent idea – I’m totally behind it.

“It’s come as a brilliant bolt out of the blue, a real surprise.”

The retired council finance chief added: “It’s been talked about about for years.

“But I’m very encouraged because this time it’s been put forward by professional planners and strategists in the West Northamptonshire Strategic Plan.

“It was also very enlightening to hear the Transport Secretary support the idea in the Commons.

“So this time we might finally be able to get it off the ground.”

Mr Jones said he’d ridden on the special last service from Northampton to Harborough in 1981.

“It’s hard to believe it’s almost 40 years ago now.

“I’d love to be able to jump on a train in Harborough one day and ride back to Northampton,” he said.

“A lot of people commute in to Northampton to work and they’ve had to drive for years.

“This could make life so much easier and better for them.

“We’re well connected to our other ‘county town’ Leicester so it would make total sense to re-establish our rail link to Northampton.

“Traffic congestion, pollution and the threat to the environment all pose increasing problems.

“Let’s get more drivers off the roads and back on to trains.

“Re-opening the Northampton line would also give Harborough travellers a vital alternative route to London.”

The railway was turned into the Brampton Valley Way for walkers and cyclists while sections were swallowed up by the Northampton and Lamport Railway.

“The old line is still there and would just have to be brought back into the town to Harborough station.

“Everyone I know would support this initiative so let’s hope it goes ahead after all these years,” said Mr Jones.

The Harborough to Northampton line was built by iconic civil engineer George Stephenson, known as the Father of Railways, in 1859.

There were also stations at Pitsford & Brampton, Spratton, Brixworth, Lamport, Kelmarsh and Clipston as well as two tunnels at Kelmarsh and Great Oxendon.