The Anonymous Widower

Market Harborough Station – 11th July 2019

Compare these pictures taken today, with those in Market Harborough Station – 10th May 2019.

In the intervening two months, there have been major changes at Market Harborough station.

Two Shorter Curved Platforms Have Been Replaced

The two shorter curved platforms have been replaced by two long straight platforms.

  • They can handle the longest trains likely to stop in the station.
  • As they are straight, it is likely that there will be a smaller gap to mind, between platform and train.
  • The platforms and the tracks have been moved to the West by several metres.
  • The platforms are now furnished to a high standard, with shelters and information screens.

The new platforms and tracks are a great improvement for passengers, staff and train operators.

But they also mean.

  • Trains that stop at the station, can perform faster stops, as the better train-platform interface speeds passengers entering or leaving the train.
  • Passing trains can benefit from a higher speed limit through the station.

This should mean a faster journey time along the Midland Main Line.

The Land Released Will Be Used To Extend The Car Park

Several hundred new car parking spaces will be provided on the Eastern side of the line, in the land released by moving the platforms and tracks.

There Is A Fully Working Step-Free Bridge

The new step-free bridge is now fully working.

  • The steps are wide enough for bi-directional traffic.
  • There are lifts on both sides.

It is asymmetric, with the steps probably leading in the direction most passengers will be walking to and from.

  • On the Eastern London-bound platform, passengers will be walking to and from the car park.
  • On the Western Leicester-bound platform, passengers will be walking to and from the main station building with the exit to the town, the ticket office and the cafe.

The bridge will certainly handle commuters to London or Leicester, who drive to the station and have to cross the tracks before or after one journey.

It will also handle commuters, who walk or cycle from the town centre.

This bridge has been placed by someone, who knows what they’re doing!

There Are A Pair Of Crossovers To The North Of the Station

I don’t know whether these are new, but they certainly will give operational advantages, if for instance, a train should fail in Market Harbprough station.

As it is likely, that the Midland Main Line will be electrified as far North as Market Harborough station, could they be used for other purposes?

125 mph electric services could be run between London and Market Harborough.

  • The two crossovers would easy turnback of the trains or the building of a stabling siding, North of the station.
  • Trains would probably take under an hour.
  • They could stop at intermediate stations like Luton Airport Parkway Luton, Bedford and Wellingborough.
  • Market Harborough station has a lot of parking.
  • It could be a second electric service into St. Pancras.

It could be a useful complimentary service or an alternative one whilst planned major regeneration work is ongoing at Leicester station.

Market Harborough Station Has A Bigger Capacity

Consider.

  • The longer platforms will allow longer trains with more seats to call at the station.
  • The shorter dwell times at the station of stopping trains will allow more trains to stop in the station every hour.
  • The step-free bridge is additional capacity for crossing the tracks.
  • There will be a massive increase in car parking.

It looks to me that the station has been upgraded to fulfil a need for more trains.

These figures show the population and passenger numbers at stations around Market Harborough.

  • Corby – 70,800 – 300,000 – 4.24
  • Kettering – 56,200 – 1,070,000 – 19
  • Market Harborough – 22,900 – 900,000 – 39.3
  • Wellingborough -49,100 – 1,015,000 – 20.7

The last figure was obtained by dividing the number of journeys by the population.

Does Market Harborough’s high figure mean that there is a high demand for travellers living around Market Hsrborough and the large amount of extra car parking will be well-used.

Note.

  1. I travelled to Market Harborough with a lady and her two young children, who wee actually going to Leicester and were being picked up by family at the earlier station due to all the traffic problems around Leicester station.
  2. There used to be four stations between Market Harborough and Leicester, but all closed in 1968.
  3. There used to be two stations between Market Harborough and Kettering, but all closed in the 1960s.
  4. Market Harborough is well-connected by roads.

So is Market Harborough station used by locals as a Leicester South station?

As an aside, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a new parkway station developed in conjunction with a large housing development, built between Kettering and Leicester, at some point in the future..

Future Electrification

There is a section entitle Electrification in the Wikipedia entry for the Midland Main Line.

This is the last paragraph.

On 26 February 2019 Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, announced that electrification would be extended northwards from Kettering to Market Harborough, enabling the connection of the railway to a new power supply point at Braybrooke.

I will assume that this means, that electric trains will be able to run to Market Harborough station.

As I said earlier, there are a pair of crossovers to the North of the station, which could be useful for turning trains or giving easy access to a couple of stabling sidings.

Hopefully, electrifying the station will not be difficult, as it has only recently been built and foundations for the electrification gantries have either been built or surveyed thoroughly.

Battery Trains Through Market Harborough Station

One thing that won’t be needed at Market Harborough station is a charging station for battery-electric trains, as this will be handled by the electrification.

Bi-mode and battery-electric trains would either raise or lower the pantograph at speed or at a stop in the station.

The operation of a battery-electric train going North could be interesting.

If it wasn’t scheduled to stop in the station, the train would go through Market Harborough station, with maximum charge in the onboard storage, after being charged by the overhead electrification, on the way up from London. The train would also run through the station, at the highest possible speed, as allowed by the track, so that the train had the highest possible kinetic energy.

Electrification to Market Harborough will act like a catapult to send trains North at their maximum kinetic energy and they could probably glide all the way to Leicester station using little of their energy stored in the onboard battery.

The electrification would probably go a short way North of Market Harborough station, so that sropping trains could be accelerated to full speed using the electrification.

There Is Still Work To Be Done

Work to be done appears to include.

  • Refurbishing the original subway to give access between the London-bound platform and the station building.
  • Finishing the shelters and other platform furnishings.
  • Landscape the car-park and create ramped access to the London-bound platform.

A notice said the subway would reopen in December 2019.

Conclusion

Market Harborough now has a much higher capacity modern station.

 

July 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 2 Comments

Welcome For Extension Of Midland Electrification

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Rail News.

This is the first paragraph.

Electrification of the Midland Main Line is set to be extended from Kettering North Junction to Market Harborough station.

The project was announced in the House of Commons and has already been called great news by the local MP.

In MML Wires Could Reach Market Harborough, I laid out my thoughts after an article in the June 2018 Edition of Modern Railways, with the same title.

This was my major conclusion.

I think that electrification between Glendon Junction and Market Harborough station will happen.

I actually feel that with the announcement of innovative new rolling stock and electrification methods in the last few months, that electrification of this section could now be easier and that electrification to Leicester might even happen.

March 5, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

A Reconnaissance To Market Harborough

This morning, I took trains between St. Pancras and Market Harborough stations, and then came back with a pit-stop at Wellingborough station.

These were my observations.

Electrification Between Bedford And Kettering/Corby

The electrification seems to be progressing, as these pictures show.

Note.

  1. Quite a few orange-capped piles have been installed.
  2. The gantries are going up.
  3. Extra tracks are being added.

One difference between this electrification project and others I have seen lately in the UK, is the aura of tidiness.

Electrifying From Glendon Junction To Market Harborough Station

One of the objectives of my reconnaissance was to see how much work needed to be done to the bridges between Glendon Junction and Market Harborough station, so that the overhead lines could be installed.

I counted nine bridges over the tracks and all seemed to offer sufficient clearance for freight trains and overhead wires.

It appeared that some bridges had been rebuilt and I suspect that Network Rail have completed their gauge clearance on this section of the Midland Main Line.

Line Speed From St. Pancras To Market Harborough

I chose to ride North in an InterCity 125, as having ridden in the cab of one of these iconic trains, I know a bit more about their capabilities.

What surprised me was how much of the journey was spent running at a speed in excess of 120 mph. There was one section where we were limited to about 90 mph, but I got the impression that Network Rail and their predecessors have created a high quality high speed line.

I would think it would be highly unlikely that by the time new bi-mode trains come into service in a few years time, that much of the route will be able to handle 125 mph running.

The train was almost at this speed between Glendon Junction and Market Harborough, so when the track through the station is straightened, it looks to me that journey times will be reduced.

Market Harborough Station

The station is a typical smaller main line station.

Note.

  1. Access to the London-bound platform is not step-free.
  2. Shelters are rather basic.
  3. The lines through the station will be straightened soon, to increase line speed.

Overall, it is a station with a good building, that should be improved.

Surely, if the tracks are being remodelled, then the foundations for electrification gantries should be installed.

Wellingborough Station

On the way back, I stopped off at Wellingborough station.

Note.

  1. Wellingborough station is being improved.
  2. All trains seem to stop at the two main platform 1 and 2.
  3. The bay platform 3 seems to have been rebuilt as a through platform to serve the new track being created through the station.
  4. There is rather a nice real ale and cider bar on the entrance side of the station.
  5. The station has a footbridge with lifts, which is better designed than many.

All of the improvements are to support the new housing being built around the station.

This Google Map shows the area around the station.

Note the new road crossing the railway to the North of the station.

It certainly looks like the upgraded station will be needed.

Views Of Drivers

I travelled back to London, with a group of drivers.

Two specific points emerged.

Electrification at Leicester could be difficult, as there are sewers under the track, which might mean the whole station and bridges would need to be substantially rebuilt.

South of Bedford, the Thameslink’s new Class 700 trains get in the way as they are too slow at 100 mph.

It is interesting to note the following.

  • Class 387 trains working the East Coast Main Line and Great Western Main Line are 110 mph trains.
  • Class 350 trains working the West Coast Main Line are 110 mph trains.

Are the Class 700 trains reducing the capcity of the Midland Main Line?

 

May 25, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

MML Wires Could Reach Market Harborough

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in the June 2018 Edition of Modern Railways.

It appears that Network Rail have a problem.

So Network Rail are now looking for a twelve mile long extension lead.

A Network Rail spokesman, says they are looking at various options, including an underground cable or extending the Overhead Line Equipment.

Extending The Electrification To Market Harborough

There must be a scenario, where extending the electrification as far as Market Harborough, is a feasible and cost-effective engineering solution.

Consider, the MML between Market Harborough station and Glendon Junction, where the Corby Branch Line joins.

  • The distance is less than twelve miles.
  • There are no stations, which can be a pain to electrify.
  • The track through Market Harborough station is being re-aligned, so the station should be easy to electrify.
  • Glendon Junction is the only junction.
  • The electrification will reach as far as Glendon Junction from St. Pancras.
  • The route is is a double-track railway, which appears to be over fairly level terrain.
  • There appears to be wide margins on either side of the railway.
  • There are about half-a-dozen bridges over the railway, some of which could have been fairly recently built or rebuilt.

I doubt, it would be one of the most difficult of electrification projects.

I also suspect, that after their electrification fiascoes of the last few years, Network Rail might have learned enough to do this at an affordable cost.

For example, if the bridges are a problem, they might be able to use the technique I described in Novel Solution Cuts Cardiff Bridge Wiring Cost.

East Midlands Trains Services To And From London

If you look at the current long distance service of East Midlands Trains, there are the following four services between St. Pancras and Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield stations.

  • Nottingham (stopping) – Stops at Luton Airport Parkway, Bedford, Wellingborough, Kettering, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and Beeston.
  • Sheffield (semi-fast) – Stops at Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Parkway, Long Eaton, Derby and Chesterfield
  • Nottingham (fast) – Stops at Market Harborough, Leicester and East Midlands Parkway
  • Sheffield (fast) – Stops at Leicester, Derby and Chesterfield.

Note.

  1. Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough, East Midlands Psrkway, Derby, Nottingham, Chesterfield and Sheffield stations, all get at least two trains per hour (tph) to and from London.
  2. Include the Corby service and Bedford, Wellingborough and Kettering have two tph to and from London.
  3. All trains stop at Leicester station, which gives the city four tph to and from London.
  4. Market Harborough to Leicester is only sixteen miles.

Bi-Mode Trains

From 2021, it is expected that these services will be run by 125 mph bi-mode trains.

So how will electrification help these bi-mode trains?

Class 802 Trains

Suppose the services were to be run by a Class 802 train, which can do at least 125 mph using electric power.

An article on Christian Wolmar’s web site, is entitled Bombardier’s Survival Was The Right Kind Of Politics.

This is said.

The Hitachi bi-mode trains can only go 110 mph when using diesel.

The article was written a year ago, so this figure may be higher now!

So a Hitachi bi-mode will be able to go to the end of the electrification at either Glendon Junction or Market Harborough, as fast as the track allows and then at 110 mph on diesel.

Currently, services between St. Pancras and London take around seventy to eighty minutes.

What difference would the planned electrification to Glendon Junction make to this time?

Consider.

  • Electrification to Glendon Junction or Market Harborough station could save more time, through faster running.
  • Electrification to Market Harborough would mean only sixteen miles to Leicester would be on diesel.
  • Electrification at Market Harborough station would cut time for those services stopping at the station.
  • Track improvement could allow more 125 mph running using electric power.
  • Modern in-cab digital signalling might allow sections of even faster running under electric power.
  • Modern trains should save time at stations.

I’m certain that the right combination of improvements to track, stations and trains, will mean all services between St. Pancras and Leicester would be around an hour with Class 802 trains.

Bombardier’s Proposed 125 mph Aventra Bi-Mode

Bmbardier have announced a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra, which I wrote about in Bombardier Bi-Mode Aventra To Feature Battery Power.

I said this about the train.

  • Development has already started.
  • Battery power could be used for Last-Mile applications.
  • The bi-mode would have a maximum speed of 125 mph under both electric and diesel power.
  • Bombardier’s spokesman said that the ambience will be better, than other bi-modes.

This train with its faster speed on diesel would certainly achieve a time between St. Pancras and Leicester of under an hour.

I also think that this time will be achieved, whether or not, the wires are extended to Market Harborough.

Improving The Track

Many politicians, union leaders and environmentalists, see electrification as the main answer to better train services.

But before you can electrify a route, the track must be in a state, so that trains can run at a high speed, with long gentle curves and as few junctions as possible.

In the Wikipedia entry for Market Harborough station, there is a section called Future. This is said.

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 60 mph (100 km/h). 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.

How many other sections between Glendon Junction and Leicester could benefit from this type of improvement?

Should Market Harborough To Leicester Be Electrified?

As Market Harborough and Leicester stations are only about sixteen miles apart, surely it would be sensible to electrify this section, if Glendon Junction to Market Harborough is electrified?

I have flown my helicopter from Market Harborough to Leicester and the whole route has the following characteristics.

  • Double-track
  • Fairly level
  • Wide margins.
  • Market Harborough is the only station.
  • There are junctions South of Leicester.

It would be fairly easy to electrify, but for one thing.

Although, there are only half-a-dozen bridges South of Market Harborough, it would appear there to be up to twenty bridges on the Northern section, some of which look like they would need serious work to get the wires underneath.

I have a feeling that electrifying between Market Harborough and Leicester would cause massive disruption to road traffic, if some bridges needed to be demolished and rebuilt.

A bi-mode travelling at upwards of 110 mph would probably achieve the same times on this section, without the disruption of installing the electrification.

Could Discontinuous Electrification Be Used Between Market Harborough And Leicester?

This is an additional section, that has been added after the announcement of March 5th 2019, that stated that the Midland Main Line would be electrified as far as Market Harborough.

Discontinuous electrification is to be used on the South Wales Metro and the difficult section, South of Leicester, which has lots of road bridges, might be a section, where the technique could be used to advantage.

Conclusion

I think that electrification between Glendon Junction and Market Harborough station will happen.

  • The section wouldn’t be the most difficult to electrify.
  • As there needs to be an electrical connection between Market Harborough and Glendon Junction, electrification of that section of the railway, might be a cost-effective solution to provide the connection.
  • Electrification of Market Harborough station would cut the time to make a call at the station.
  • It would offer enough time reduction on the Midland Main Line, that to give Leicester a four tph service to and from St. Pancras, with a journey time of under an hour, using existing train designs.

However, electrifying from Market Harborough to Leicester would be more difficult and I can’t see it offering any substantial benefits over a modern bi-mode train.

 

 

 

May 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 3 Comments