Rail minister visits Market Harborough to see improvement works at town's station

The Government minister for railways came to Market Harborough on Thursday to see for himself the improvements being done to the town's station and line.

By James Bryce
Friday, 28th June 2019, 9:33 am
Rail Minister Andrew Jones and Harborough MP Neil O'Brien at Market Harborough Station
Rail Minister Andrew Jones and Harborough MP Neil O'Brien at Market Harborough Station

Rail Minister Andrew Jones came to town to see the £53.3 million station improvements including longer platforms, which the Government says will create more seats and improved journey times.

The investment in Market Harborough forms part of the Government’s £1.5 billion Midland Main Line upgrade - the biggest upgrade of the line since it was completed in 1870.

Passengers are already benefitting from improved accessibility thanks to the installation of a new footbridge and new lifts at Market Harborough Station. The station also now boasts 300 new car parking spaces, set to be extended to 500 by the end of the year.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones and Harborough MP Neil O'Brien

The Minister also saw progress being made on two extended platforms, enabling new, longer trains to run through the station and provide passengers with more seats. This follows the replacement and straightening of 4km of curved tracks, improving speeds and journey times.

Mr Jones, said: “The transformative upgrade of the Midland Line is coming to life, focused on delivering significantly better journeys for rail passengers right across the region.

“Through key upgrades at stations like Market Harborough, the arrival of a new fleet with more seats, and trials of innovative hydrogen-fuelled trains, we are creating a railway that is fit for the future."

The minister also went to Leicester where he received the strategic outline business case for the Midlands Rail Hub. The Hub would create better rail links and capacity between Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham, and would allow direct Coventry-Leicester-Nottingham trains to run. It would also link with the HS2 line.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones and Harborough MP Neil O'Brien

Mr Jones said: “The Midlands Rail Hub also has huge potential to future proof the region’s railway by significantly increasing capacity on the network. I am delighted to receive these proposals, which we will now consider closely.”

Midlands Connect is the body that drew up the business case for the Midlands Rail Hub. Its chairman Sir John Peace, said: “The Midlands Rail Hub is a cost-effective, evidence-led plan to upgrade our infrastructure to meet the demands of the future. These proposals capture the enormous economic potential of the Midlands, with 320,000 new jobs estimated by 2030, mainly in professional services firms who depend on good rail connectivity to attract skilled workers.”

“This investment must happen alongside delivering HS2 in its entirety, from the West Midlands to the East Midlands and on to the north of England, and I look forward to working with the government as they consider our proposals.”

Gavin Crook, Principal Programme Sponsor for Network Rail, said: “The work at Market Harborough is a vital stage of the Midland Main Line Upgrade, which will improve journeys for all passengers using the route.

“The project has seen the line through the station straightened, which will enable trains to travel at higher speeds. Work has also taken place to install a new accessible footbridge, which will open up travel opportunities for more passengers. We are also lengthening platforms at the station which will allow longer trains with more seats to call there.

“We continue to work at Market Harborough station on the creation of 200 additional car parking spaces and to complete the platform lengthening work, which will bring further benefits.”

The Government also recently announced that Abellio will operate the next East Midlands Railway franchise, entirely replacing the existing intercity fleet with more reliable and comfortable trains.

Passengers will see an 80% increase in the number of peak morning seats into Nottingham, Lincoln and St Pancras, improved delay repay compensation and trials of hydrogen fuel cell trains.