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Market Harborough railway station serves the town of Market Harboroughmarker in Leicestershiremarker, Englandmarker. It lies on the Midland Main Line, 16 miles (26 km) south-east of Leicestermarker and is served by the majority of semi-fast East Midlands Trains Class 222 "Meridian" services, although some faster express services also call during peak times and at weekends. The station is situated to the east of Market Harborough town centre.

Being relatively close to London, the frequency of trains to the capital in the morning and evening peak is excellent for commuting, with a train running (occasionally non stop) every twenty minutes with the quickest journeys taking fifty-five minutes.

History

Market Harborough was the largest station within the county boundary south of Leicester. Such was the volume of traffic, a junction for five different directions at its height, by 1870 plans for an engine shed were released in addition to the already provided loco pit, turntable and water tank. A shed was never built but this did not stop it becoming a sub-shed of Leicester in later years.

The original station was built by the London and North Western Railway in 1850 on its line between Stamfordmarker to Rugbymarker and thence to Eustonmarker. The Midland Railway shared it from 1857 when it built its extension from Leicester to Bedfordmarker and Hitchinmarker.

As traffic built up, the Midland built a new line at a higher elevation, crossing the LNWR and then running parallel to a new joint station in the present position. The Midland line was quadrupled in 1879 and the new station opened in 1885.

The station was the scene of a serious accident in 1862. An excursion train bound for Burton-upon-Trentmarker stopped to pick up water, and a second train bound for Leicester collided with the rear of it.

The service on the original LNWR line was drastically reduced in 1960 and finally closed in 1966. The Midland line continues, with the platform buildings and canopies replaced with modern designs in the sixties. The main building survived, however, and was carefully restored in 1981.

Summary of Former Services

Services

There is a half-hourly service to London St. Pancrasmarker and via Leicester to either Derbymarker or Nottinghammarker, both operated by East Midlands Trains Meridian units. In the morning and evening some services are extended to Lincolnmarker via Newarkmarker.

Faster East Midlands Trains services to/from Leedsmarker, Sheffieldmarker, Nottinghammarker and Derbymarker run through at high speed, but do not stop. Interchange with Faster services can be made at Leicestermarker and St Pancras.

The weekend sees trains operating to Yorkmarker and, in the summer, Scarboroughmarker. EMT hope that in the future when Network Rail have completed track upgrades that they will be able to run to Skegnessmarker at the weekends.

Bus services depart from outside the station and operate throughout the town and also to both Lutterworthmarker, Hinckleymarker and Leicester.

Future

Market Harborough station is located on a large curve on the Midland Main Line, as a result of this line speeds through the station have always been relatively slow, at around . The track layout is set to change significantly over the next couple of years as Network Rail engineers set about straightening the line, as part of their overall plan to increase overall line speeds.

The initial specification for the new East Midlands Trains franchise would have seen a big reduction in the number of trains calling at Market Harborough. These plans were fought against by the Harborough Rail Users' Group, and, as a result, the final specification will see no reduction in services.

Stagecoach have promised as part of their bid that they will create additional car parking spaces at stations along their route, Market Harborough's new larger car park opened early in 2008.

References

  1. Radford, B., (1983) Midland Line Memories: a Pictorial History of the Midland Railway Main Line Between London (St Pancras) & Derby London: Bloomsbury Books
  2. http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_railways/documents/page/dft_railways_611833.pdf
  3. Passengers fight back over rail cuts - Harborough Today
  4. Extra Car Park Spaces at Market Harborough - East Midlands Trains


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