Long-delayed scheme to build new toilets at Harborough railway station is finally due to start in the next fortnight

Work is expected to finish on the multi-million pound blueprint in the spring or early summer

A controversial long-delayed scheme to build new toilets at Market Harborough railway station is finally due to start in the next fortnight.
A controversial long-delayed scheme to build new toilets at Market Harborough railway station is finally due to start in the next fortnight.

A controversial long-delayed scheme to build new toilets at Market Harborough railway station is finally due to start in the next fortnight.

The initiative to construct a new permanent toilet block with disabled facilities and waiting room at the town’s busy transport hub is set to get off the ground in the middle of this month.

Work is expected to finish on the multi-million pound blueprint at the station in the spring or early summer.

Cllr Phil Knowles

That will be an “astounding” three years since passengers were forced to start using temporary loos at the front of the station in the middle of 2019.

And Network Rail chiefs have today apologised for the time it’s taken to push ahead as they admitted the under-fire delays have caused people real “frustration”.

Today Gary Walsh, route director for Network Rail’s East Midlands Route, told the Harborough Mail: “We’re happy to be able to confirm that work to build a new toilet block and waiting area at Market Harborough railway station will begin later this month.

“We know the delay to this project has been a source of frustration for passengers and we’re sorry about this.”

Mr Walsh added: “Our team will be starting on site in mid-January and we hope that this news is welcomed by all users of the station.”

The long-awaited breakthrough is being welcomed by Cllr Phil Knowles, who has been fighting for the vital structural upgrade and revamp since 2019.

But the veteran councillor told the Mail: “This is a genuinely bittersweet moment.

“I’m obviously delighted that Network Rail is at long last poised to kickstart work on this critical scheme this month.

“But why has it taken them so long to get round to doing it?

“It beggars belief that it will be three years since the makeshift temporary toilets were set up in the first place.

“I find it absolutely astounding that a huge national company like Network Rail with their massive resources couldn’t have got this done ages ago,” said Cllr Knowles, who leads the Liberal Democrat opposition on Harborough District Council.

“The interminable delays have angered and frustrated in equal measure thousands of local passengers and commuters all over Harborough.

“In fact I’ve been very worried that the funding might not have been available to do this work and build these new toilets at all.

“Network Rail blew a huge opportunity to provide new toilet facilities when they carried out the sweeping £53 million revamp of the station two or three years ago.

“The new platform and new footbridge have been an enormous step forward for station users.

“But I can’t for the life of me believe that we are all still being forced to use stopgap loos which reflect very poorly on the station as well as on our town.

“It’s as simple as this.

“We all want to see a fantastic railway station on the prestigious main line to London fit for the 21st century.

“This hasn’t been a five-minute overnight closure,” said Cllr Knowles, the district councillor for Great Bowden and Arden.

“Our historic railway station is on my council ward and I will always fight to make sure that we all have a station that we can and should be proud of.

“I’m not sure how long this scheme to build the new toilets is going to take.

“But Network Rail can rest assured that I’ll be keeping a very close eye on the work’s progress and I’ll be continuing to keep up the pressure to make sure we finally get this done.

“It’s a case of better late than never – even if it’s taken far too long.”