It’s set to take over a year to finally open new toilets at Market Harborough Railway Station – and the long wait has been slammed by a furious councillor.
Angry passengers and commuters have been left stunned by the length of time it’s taking to build and complete permanent public lavatories at the town’s busy station.
Toilets and a new waiting room are now finally scheduled to open on the London mainline station’s northbound platform in March 2022.
And that has not gone down well with long-term station improvement campaigner and critic Cllr Phil Knowles.
“This is simply not good enough.
“In fact, it’s totally unacceptable,” Cllr Knowles told the Harborough Mail.
“Why is taking so long to open something as vital, something as indispensable, as new toilets?
“We all need to use the toilets.
“So just what have Network Rail been playing at all this time?
“It is unbelievable.”
Network Rail, which maintains and operates the country’s rail system, is due to begin work on the new block this autumn.
The company now aims to improve the station’s temporary toilets in the meantime.
People have been forced to use the makeshift loos outside the front of the building since the middle of 2019.
“This whole process has already dragged on far too long.
“All of this work should have been done in the £53 million revamp of the station,” insisted Cllr Knowles, who leads the Liberal Democrats on Harborough council.
“They sat down then with a blank sheet of paper.
“That was clearly the right time to get all their heads together and complete the whole package, including the new toilets, then.
“But there was no joined-up thinking.
“By the time the people of Market Harborough and beyond finally get new toilets to go to at least three years will have ticked on by.
“Why is all of this taking so long to deliver?
“I have been raising these issues time and again for many months.
“Disabled access is poor and the ramp is very difficult to negotiate for customers with wheelchairs, pushchairs and buggies.
“The people of Harborough deserve a railway station to be proud of.
“Especially as so many more people will be travelling by train once again when the Covid lockdowns are finally lifted,” said Cllr Knowles.
“But now we are looking at March 2022 to get all this done.
“This should have all been carried out and finished in the first tranche of work.
“It’s very frustrating because these issues should have been addressed at the start.
“Instead of which I can’t help feeling that this has been a huge opportunity missed by Network Rail.”
Gavin Crook, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “We want to thank passengers using Market Harborough station for their patience whilst the permanent toilets are closed.
“We have a proposed design for the project, which includes a new toilet block, disabled facilities and a waiting room on platform 1.
“Our contractors are currently carrying out a user group consultation on this design to complete the final checks necessary to move forward into construction by autumn this year.”
He added: “We are working closely with East Midlands Railway on a detailed plan so we can carry out this work as soon as possible, whilst keeping disruption for passengers to a minimum.
“Our teams are also carrying out improvements to the temporary toilets in March and will be making more available for the duration of the project.”
People wanting to make comments on the plan should email [email protected]