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Market Harborough railway station

Market Harborough railway station is a Grade II listed[1] station which serves the town of Market Harborough in Leicestershire, England. It is situated to the east of the town centre and lies on the Midland Main Line, 16 miles (26 km) south-east of Leicester.

Market Harborough National Rail
The Grade II listed station building from 1884 by John Livock
PlaceMarket Harborough
Local authorityHarborough
Coordinates52°28′48″N 0°54′34″W / 52.48°N 0.9094°W / 52.48; -0.9094Coordinates: 52°28′48″N 0°54′34″W / 52.48°N 0.9094°W / 52.48; -0.9094
Grid referenceSP741874
Station codeMHR
Managed byEast Midlands Railway
Number of platforms2
DfT categoryC2
Live arrivals/departures, station information and onward connections
from National Rail Enquiries
Annual rail passenger usage*
2013/14Increase 0.798 million
2014/15Increase 0.832 million
2015/16Increase 0.870 million
2016/17Increase 0.888 million
2017/18Increase 0.894 million
Key datesOpened 1 May 1850 (1 May 1850)
Listed status
Listed featureMarket Harborough Railway Station
Listing gradeGrade II listed
Entry number1074404[1]
Added to list25 March 1975
National RailUK railway stations
* Annual estimated passenger usage based on sales of tickets in stated financial year(s) which end or originate at Market Harborough from Office of Rail and Road statistics. Methodology may vary year on year.
Market Harborough Station in 1957


The original station was opened on 1 May 1850[2] by the London and North Western Railway (LNWR) on the Rugby to Stamford branch of its main line from London Euston to Birmingham and the north-west. The Midland Railway shared this station from 1857 when it built its extension from Leicester to Bedford and Hitchin. On 16 February 1859 the LNWR opened a further branch line, from Northampton to Market Harborough, which also used the same station.[3]

The station was the scene of a serious accident on 28 August 1862.[4] An excursion train bound for Burton-upon-Trent stopped to pick up water, and a second train bound for Leicester collided with the rear of it. The accident resulted in the death of one person and seventy were injured.

As traffic built up, the Midland opened a new line on 26 June 1885 at a higher elevation, crossing the LNWR and then running parallel to a new joint station in the present position.

The new station building was opened on 14 September 1884.[3] It was built by Parnell and Sons of Rugby from designs by John Livock and Millbank. The engineer was Hirst of Rugby.[5]

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 service on the original LNWR line was drastically reduced in 1960 and it finally closed in June 1966. Freight traffic on the line to Northampton continued until closure in August 1981, when the station ceased to be a junction. 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.


A Map of East Midlands Railway InterCity services showing the current service pattern each hour

Market Harborough is served by the fast and semi-fast East Midlands Railway Class 222 "Meridian"/HST services. Trains to London are around every half hour and all off peak trains now start or end at Nottingham. One of these are fast going non-stop to or from London. While the other is a semi-fast service via Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford and Luton Airport Parkway. Services north to Nottingham call at Leicester and either Loughborough and Beeston or East Midlands Parkway. In the morning and evening some services are extended to Lincoln via Newark.[6]

With a journey time to London of just over one hour, 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.

Weekend services include trains operating to York and, in the summer, Scarborough.

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

The initial specification for the East Midlands Trains franchise, which started in 2007, would have seen a big reduction in the number of trains calling at Market Harborough.[7] These plans were fought against by the Harborough Rail Users' Group, and, as a result, the final specification saw no reduction in services.[8]

Stagecoach promised as part of their bid that they would create additional car parking spaces at stations along their route, Market Harborough's new larger car park opened early in 2008.[9]

Market Harborough is a Penalty fare station, meaning that as there are facilities to buy tickets at the station, a valid ticket or Permit to travel must be shown when requested, rather than being able to buy tickets on the train.


Market Harborough Line Speed Improvement projectEdit

Market Harborough station is located on a large curve on the Midland Main Line and 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 as Network Rail engineers set about straightening the line as part of their overall plan to increase line speeds. It is also planned that both platforms will be extended. This work was originally scheduled to be complete by no later than 2012[10] but is now due for completion by the end of 2019.

The Market Harborough Line Speed Improvement project will deliver:

  • A straighter line, enabling a line speed increase through Market Harborough and a reduction in journey time for passengers travelling between London and Sheffield
  • A new 265m platform 1 and extended platform 2 to accommodate longer trains with more seats
  • A new footbridge with lifts
  • A new 300 space car park on the east side of the station (completed in 2018). Work to increase this in size to 500 spaces will start in the summer of 2019 once the new track has been installed and tied in to the existing lines, freeing up the required space.[11]


See also Electrification of the Midland Main Line

The railway through Leicestershire is not electrified and therefore all services are operated by diesel trains. Plans to electrify this part of the line (as part of the wider Electric Spine project), announced in 2012[12] and later resumed after a pause in 2015[13], were cancelled in 2017.[14] However, in February 2019 Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, announced that electrification would be extended northwards from Kettering up to Market Harborough, enabling the connection of the railway to a new power supply point at Braybrooke.[15][16]

Service summaryEdit

Preceding station   National Rail Following station
East Midlands Railway
Midland Main Line
  Historical railways  
East Langton
Line open, station closed
  Midland Railway
Midland Main Line
  Desborough and Rothwell
Line open, station closed
Disused railways
Line and station closed
  London and North Western Railway
Rugby to Peterborough East
  Ashley and Weston
Line and station closed
Clipston and Oxendon
Line and station closed
  London and North Western Railway
Northampton to Nottingham
Line and station closed


  1. ^ a b Historic England, "Market Harborough Railway Station (1074404)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 4 January 2017
  2. ^ "Market Harborough. The Rugby and Stamford Railway". Northampton Mercury. British Newspaper Archive. 4 May 1850. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b Leleux, Robin. A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain. Volume 9. David & Charles, Newton Abbot. p. 107. ISBN 0715371657.
  4. ^ "Dreadful accident on the Midland Railway at Market Harborough". Leicestershire Mercury. British Newspaper Archive. 30 August 1862. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Market Harborough. The new railway station". Stamford Mercury. British Newspaper Archive. 19 September 1884. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  6. ^ East Midlands Trains: Timetable 13 December 2009 to 22 May 2010 Accessed 13 March 2010
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 July 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Passengers fight back over rail cuts - Harborough Today[dead link]
  9. ^ Extra Car Park Spaces at Market Harborough - East Midlands Trains
  10. ^ "Network Rail CP4 Delivery Plan 2009 Enhancements programme: statement of scope, outputs and milestones" (PDF). Network Rail. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  11. ^ "Market Harborough Line Speed Improvement project". Network Rail. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  12. ^ "Investing in rail, investing in jobs and growth". Department for Transport. 16 July 2012.
  13. ^ "TransPennine and Midland Mainline electrification works to resume". Department for Transport. 30 September 2015.
  14. ^ "Sheffield, Swansea and Windermere electrification cancelled". Railway Gazette. 20 July 2017.
  15. ^ "Electrification to reach Market Harborough". Railway Gazette. 5 March 2019.
  16. ^ "UK to extend electrification of Midland Main Line". Railway Technology. 7 March 2019.

External linksEdit