New Market Harborough station plans go on display

Busy scenes at the network rail exhibition in the indoor market.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Busy scenes at the network rail exhibition in the indoor market. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

More than 400 people viewed the outline plans for a redesigned Market Harborough station, at an exhibition at the weekend.

The Network Rail exhibition was on a stall at the town’s Market Hall on Saturday.

Market Harborough railway station from the air.

Market Harborough railway station from the air.

Network Rail project manager Troy Lancaster said: “It’s gone really well. We’ve been busy all day, and the feedback from the public was very positive.

“But the main thing I’ve learned from the public today is there’s a really big desire to keep the existing station building.

“It’s a charismatic looking building, and there’s a big push to keep it as the main station building.”

Details of the £46million station re-design have still to be announced. But in broad terms they involve:

n Straightening the track at Market Harborough and at Great Bowden to up the local railway speed limit from the current 65mph to 
100mph.

n Moving the main car park across to the other side of the tracks, and increasing capacity from 300 cars to 500. This is because the straightened line will go through the current car park.

n A new station building on the opposite side of the tracks to the current one.

n Making the station wheelchair and pushchair friendly, by creating “step free access” to both platforms.

n Approximately doubling the length of platforms, and reducing the step up to train carriages.

Work on the project is due to start in September 2017, and be finished by April 2019.

But there’s one major barrier remaining to the major overhaul - a £9million shortfall in the funds currently available.

Mr Lancaster said there were “a number of options” to address the shortfall.

They are believed to include asking for more money from scheme partners, and looking for savings in the existing scheme.

And Mr Lancaster said: “This project is going to be fantastic for Harborough.”

Steve Jones of the Harborough Rail Users group said: “It was very pleasing to see the number of local people who were there on Saturday.

“It was also heartwarming to see how many people really cared about the old station building.

“I understand too that Network Rail aim to keep the Victorian goods shed on the opposite side of the tracks. One possibility is they could renovate it and use it as a second station entrance building.”

He added that he was encouraged to see that Network Rail seemed to be going for the most complete overhaul possible of the Harborough track and station site.