Plans to get behind a new rail link to Northampton and beyond have been rejected by Harborough District Council

Some councillors urged the council to support the move - but the council leader said a feasibility study would be too expensive

By Red Williams
Friday, 25th February 2022, 9:14 am
Updated Friday, 25th February 2022, 9:16 am
Harborough District Council should get behind bold new moves to open a new rail link to Northampton and beyond, a full council meeting heard last night (Thursday).
Harborough District Council should get behind bold new moves to open a new rail link to Northampton and beyond, a full council meeting heard last night (Thursday).

Harborough District Council should get behind bold new moves to open a new rail link to Northampton and beyond, a full council meeting heard last night (Thursday).

Cllr Peter James and Cllr Phil Knowles urged the local authority to support a new feasibility study set up to investigate opening the historic railway line for both freight and passengers.

But council leader Phil King called on councillors to vote against the motion – and it was decisively thrown out.

Cllr James said reopening the rail connection would be a brilliantly green way to go forward as Market Harborough, Northampton and Milton Keynes have all grown since the freight line was closed in the 1980s.

“Reopening this rail link could potentially provide multiple links and serve numerous markets, more goods could be transported by rail as part of a modal shift and people will have a travel choice which is environmentally-friendly.

“Since this rail link was closed in the early 1980s, there have been huge population changes together with changing business logistics,” said Cllr James.

“Such a rail link would join up other rail routes forming a north–west route allowing direct running from Felixstowe and anywhere else to the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT) and the new Northampton Rail Freight Depot.”

His Liberal Democrat colleague Cllr Phil Knowles said taking action would help to take cars off the road in the long run as he exhorted the council to support taking action.

But Cllr King retorted: “I have a lot of sympathy and empathy for this but this is not in Leicestershire, it’s in north Northamptonshire.

“It would cost us a sizeable amount of money to help fund this feasibility study.

“We would be ill-advised to put any money towards this,” said the Conservative council chief.

“I would urge colleagues to vote against this motion.”

And they did as Cllr James’s call to arms was resoundingly defeated at the resumed full council meeting.