Work starts on Monday on the major upgrade of Market Harborough’s railway station, the cost of which now stands at £54million.
The big re-design involves straightening the line, increasing car park capacity and approximately doubling the length of platforms.
The scheme will also reduce the large step-up to carriages from the platforms and allow “step free access” to both platforms, via a footbridge with lifts.
Harborough Rail Association secretary Phil Baildon calls it “the biggest civil engineering project since 1884-85 when the Victorian station was built”.
The first phase of the scheme, which starts on Monday, is the construction of the new eastern car park.
The new car park, initially 300 spaces, will be built on the opposite side of the tracks to the current car park, and will be accessed by a new road on the opposite side of the railway bridge.
That will be finished by the end of the year.
In spring 2018, work begins on straightening the S-curves through Market Harborough station, to increase train speeds.
The new, straightened track will run through the old station car park.
The footbridge with lifts will be built across the track, between the two extended platforms.
Extra shelters will be built on the platforms, and another 200 spaces added to the new car park.
The main ticket office will remain where it is, in the listed Victorian building, but there will be extra ticket machines.
The disruption to rail users could be minimal - no more than two weekends in spring 2019, as the new track is connected to the existing one, said Stuart Humphreys, spokesman for Network Rail.
Most of the work can be done alongside an operational railway.
Steve Jones, chair of Harborough Rail Users (pictured in the top circle), said a few details could still be improved, however.
He said: “Though it is a large and expensive scheme, there are some aspects of it where the Harborough Rail Users group would like to see improvements or receive further assurance about the final design.”
He highlighted access for disabled people from the booking office to the platforms - he said an additional lift would be better - and more canopy cover for passengers waiting on platforms.
Regular commuter Jim Haswell told the Mail he welcomed the upgrade.
“I’ve heard the step-up to the train will be reduced, which will be good” he said. “And I’m pleased that disruption to regular passengers seems to be minimal.”
Taxi drivers Said Ramahi (pictured in the second circle) and Luis Camarinha (pictured in the third circle), who work regularly at the station said they were enthusiastic about the changes.
“It seems to be a big improvement” said Mr Ramahi. “It’s good for the town” added Mr Camarinha.
Station manager Lizzie Byrnes (pictured in the fourth circle)said: “I’m very excited about the plans”.
* Harborough Railway Association have booked four experts from Network Rail to do a ‘New Station Presentation’ at the Conservative Club on Wednesday, Market Harborough, onJuly 5 at 7.30pm.
The room is limited to 90, but a few seats are still available for non-members. Entry £2 for non- members.