Market Harborough Station & Linespeed Improvement

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InTheEastMids

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I've been lurking for a while, however I haven't seen these recent developments discussed here, apologies if I missed it, but on the bright side it's one more new user!

I've seen recent news that the improvements around Market Harborough are now starting to move forward, looks like the plan is to execute this as a separate project in the next 2-3 years, ahead of electrification (hence I didn't post it into the MML Electrification thread).

Network Rail have so far been a bit shy about making their ideas public. However, based on what I've seen, there appear to be a two options on the table. The main scheme elements:

- will straighten track so that the line passes through what is now the car park, allowing line speed to be raised to ~ 85 mph
- will move the car park and vehicle access to the East of the railway
- will improve access for users with impaired mobility
- will lengthen the Southbound platform
- could mean a new station building to the East, with the existing (listed) building re-used for non-rail
- could involve up to 1.5 miles of re-alignment, which I guess will be from the existing bridge over Rockingham Road to the former junction North of Great Bowden.

There will be a public exhibition of Network Rail's proposals in Market Harborough on 27th February - see the Harborough Mail link.

Harborough Mail
Leicester Mercury
Harborough Rail Users
 
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Senex

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This sounds as if they are once again seriously considering getting rid of the 1880s flyover and going back to the old Midland alignment. That's good news -- if it ever gets done. It also sounds as if the platforms are to be moved off the curve and on to straight track, which presumably means that maximum permissible cant can be applied to the curve. But I se they're talking about 85 mph whereas in BR days the talk was of 90. Is this the difference between the exceptional curve-speed values that were applied to the MML by BR in the 1980s (and to other lines like the GW between Hele and Cullompton) and the regular values of today?
 

HowardGWR

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What is the maximum speed approaching from the south on that curve -anyone know?
 

CyrusWuff

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From the Sectional Appendix: At present, it's 125mph for HSTs (which also applies to the Meridians) from the 59.5 milepost (just under 3 miles North of Sharnbrook Junction) to 63 miles 17 chains, where it drops to 110, then again to 85 at 64 miles 27 chains, then 80 just short of Wellingborough before going back up to 100 after passing Wellingborough North Junction.

It increases to 110 at the 67.5 milepost (1/2 a mile beyond Harrowden Junction), before dropping down to 95 through Kettering, after which it's back to 100 to the 74 1/4 milepost, where it rises to 110, then drops down to 80 at the 82 milepost, right down to 60 through Market Harborough, up to 85 again the other side of the station, then 100 at 84 miles 24 chains and 110 at 86 miles 24 chains.

The next big drop is to 80 at 95 miles 47 chains (between Wigston South and North Junctions) and it's back up to 100 at 96 miles 4 chains, before a progressive drop to 15mph (via 90, 70 and 50) at 98 miles 73 chains on the approach to Leicester.
 

RichmondCommu

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From the Sectional Appendix: At present, it's 125mph for HSTs (which also applies to the Meridians) from the 59.5 milepost (just under 3 miles North of Sharnbrook Junction) to 63 miles 17 chains, where it drops to 110, then again to 85 at 64 miles 27 chains, then 80 just short of Wellingborough before going back up to 100 after passing Wellingborough North Junction.

It increases to 110 at the 67.5 milepost (1/2 a mile beyond Harrowden Junction), before dropping down to 95 through Kettering, after which it's back to 100 to the 74 1/4 milepost, where it rises to 110, then drops down to 80 at the 82 milepost, right down to 60 through Market Harborough, up to 85 again the other side of the station, then 100 at 84 miles 24 chains and 110 at 86 miles 24 chains.

The next big drop is to 80 at 95 miles 47 chains (between Wigston South and North Junctions) and it's back up to 100 at 96 miles 4 chains, before a progressive drop to 15mph (via 90, 70 and 50) at 98 miles 73 chains on the approach to Leicester.

Many thanks for sharing this. When you look at how relatively quickly the line speed changes I think its a real shame that Network Rail are not interested in converting the MML to tilt operation.
 

Class 170101

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Not sure I would want tilt operation if it meant trains like Voyagers and Pendolinos on our tight loading gauge.
 

HowardGWR

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Many thanks for sharing this. When you look at how relatively quickly the line speed changes I think its a real shame that Network Rail are not interested in converting the MML to tilt operation.

Echoed (the thanks). So it's 80 approaching the Rockingham Rd bridge? OK, I see there is a benefit at MH, but I agree with RichmondCommu that, from the Glebe Rd bridge, (I am simply using GE here), one might have hoped for a higher speed, but perhaps by tilting the track rather than the train?

Cyruswuff, it sounds like you know your stuff, do you or others have a take on this?
 

Bald Rick

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Echoed (the thanks). So it's 80 approaching the Rockingham Rd bridge? OK, I see there is a benefit at MH, but I agree with RichmondCommu that, from the Glebe Rd bridge, (I am simply using GE here), one might have hoped for a higher speed, but perhaps by tilting the track rather than the train?

Cyruswuff, it sounds like you know your stuff, do you or others have a take on this?

Almost all curved track is 'tilted', although I strongly recommend not to describe it as such in the presence of any track engineer. 'Canted' is the word you want, or if you're feeling fancy, 'superelevated'. You can bet your last penny that the revised curve through Market Harborough will have the maximum amount of cant applied.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Many thanks for sharing this. When you look at how relatively quickly the line speed changes I think its a real shame that Network Rail are not interested in converting the MML to tilt operation.

That assumes that the variations in linespeed are due to curvature, which is unlikely to be the case in all circumstances.
 

richieb1971

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Britain makes up its own prices. We should start building and improving because we can, not because there is a profit to be made. If everytime we try to improve something we shoot ourselves in the foot financially then we will just continue on a spiral that will go out of control.

If network rail say it costs £X, then we should hold them accountable for that calculation and they should do the work for that amount. The books should be open to the public and all beneficiaries should be named with the amounts they received for the work they did and if they hit their targets.

Lack of accountability, lack of living up to expectations on targets and financially has to stop.

Does nobody else believe in this philosophy?
 

deltic08

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I've been lurking for a while, however I haven't seen these recent developments discussed here, apologies if I missed it, but on the bright side it's one more new user!

I've seen recent news that the improvements around Market Harborough are now starting to move forward, looks like the plan is to execute this as a separate project in the next 2-3 years, ahead of electrification (hence I didn't post it into the MML Electrification thread).

Network Rail have so far been a bit shy about making their ideas public. However, based on what I've seen, there appear to be a two options on the table. The main scheme elements:

- will straighten track so that the line passes through what is now the car park, allowing line speed to be raised to ~ 85 mph
- will move the car park and vehicle access to the East of the railway
- will improve access for users with impaired mobility
- will lengthen the Southbound platform
- could mean a new station building to the East, with the existing (listed) building re-used for non-rail
- could involve up to 1.5 miles of re-alignment, which I guess will be from the existing bridge over Rockingham Road to the former junction North of Great Bowden.

There will be a public exhibition of Network Rail's proposals in Market Harborough on 27th February - see the Harborough Mail link.

Harborough Mail
Leicester Mercury
Harborough Rail Users

I do apologise for the heathens on this site for posting and not welcoming you to the forum. As I always say, do you know what you are letting yourself in for?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
And how much is it costing to raise speed from 60 to 85 to reduce journey time for what, less than a minute for non-stop trains?
 

QueensCurve

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This sounds as if they are once again seriously considering getting rid of the 1880s flyover and going back to the old Midland alignment.

I had no idea there was a flyover there. For the uninitiated, could you summarise the history?
 

edwin_m

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Going south to north, the LNWR lines converged with the Midland either side of the Market Harborough station building, then ran as a four track section before the Midland diverged to the right then back to the left to pass over the LNWR, which took over approximately the original course of the Midland line when it was diverted to make the flyover. The original trackbed can be seen from a MML train looking westwards.
 

InTheEastMids

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I do apologise for the heathens on this site for posting and not welcoming you to the forum. As I always say, do you know what you are letting yourself in for?
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
And how much is it costing to raise speed from 60 to 85 to reduce journey time for what, less than a minute for non-stop trains?

Thanks for the welcome, and basically... yes. :lol:

I agree, I've read the time saving is quite low, around a minute and perhaps less.

However, this is a chance to solve multiple problems in one hit - linespeed is part of it, but also the short S/bound platform, which has no step-free access. Whilst the station looks lovely, there's also concerns about vehicle access and facilities in the light of passenger growth - is it fit for the future? I guess some preparatory work for electrification will also be done.

NR will also be building a footbridge to replace the crossing at Glebe Road, which they suddenly closed without consultation last year, but that's a separate project again.
 

70014IronDuke

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Thanks for the welcome, and basically... yes. :lol:

I agree, I've read the time saving is quite low, around a minute and perhaps less.

However, this is a chance to solve multiple problems in one hit - linespeed is part of it, but also the short S/bound platform, which has no step-free access. Whilst the station looks lovely, there's also concerns about vehicle access and facilities in the light of passenger growth - is it fit for the future? I guess some preparatory work for electrification will also be done.
...

I suspect the time saving is barely 30 seconds with the power available to recover line speed these days.

Nonetheless, it's about time Market Harboro was sorted out - it's a shame it wasn't done as originally planned during the Leicester resignalling. Actually, more's the pity it wasn't done in the 60s - the time saving with a Cl 45 would have been that much more important (proportionally), especially in the up direction.
 

Senex

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I had no idea there was a flyover there. For the uninitiated, could you summarise the history?
Before the major rebuilding in the 1880s the Midland line and the (earlier) LNW line joined at the south end of the original Market Harborough station and then ran as a two-track railway to the Great Bowden Jn at the level crossing in Main Street, Great Bowden. At this point the Midland left the LNW again to head off to Leicester. The rebuilding separated the two routes completely. A new Market Harborough station was built in the "V" where the two lines came together, the old Harborough Jn being removed, and additional tracks were provided to the north of new station to keep the two routes apart. Between the two routes there were exchange sidings but no running junction. Great Bowden Jn was abolished (along with the level crossing, which was replaced by a bridge, as can still be seen from the road layout), and the Midland continued on the east side of the LNW and began to rise up, so that it could be carried over the LNW by the new flyover bridge. After crossing the LNW it dropped down again to re-join the old alignment at the bridge just short of the present A6 bridge. The old lines remained accessible from the north end as Great Bowden Sidings.
The rather sharp curve over the flyover bridge is responsible for the 85-mph restriction at that location today -- the curve of the old alignment is much gentler.
A running junction between the Midland and LNW was restored in early LMS days and was used briefly for through running between Leicester and London when the Midland Scottish sleeper was diverted that way towards the end of its life, but between the 1880s and the 1960s the only connection between the two routes was through the exchange sidings.
 

70014IronDuke

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Before the major rebuilding in the 1880s the Midland line and the (earlier) LNW line joined at the south end of the original Market Harborough station and then ran as a two-track railway to the Great Bowden Jn at the level crossing in Main Street, Great Bowden. At this point the Midland left the LNW again to head off to Leicester. The rebuilding separated the two routes completely. A new Market Harborough station was built in the "V" where the two lines came together, the old Harborough Jn being removed, and additional tracks were provided to the north of new station to keep the two routes apart. Between the two routes there were exchange sidings but no running junction. Great Bowden Jn was abolished (along with the level crossing, which was replaced by a bridge, as can still be seen from the road layout), and the Midland continued on the east side of the LNW and began to rise up, so that it could be carried over the LNW by the new flyover bridge. After crossing the LNW it dropped down again to re-join the old alignment at the bridge just short of the present A6 bridge. The old lines remained accessible from the north end as Great Bowden Sidings.
The rather sharp curve over the flyover bridge is responsible for the 85-mph restriction at that location today -- the curve of the old alignment is much gentler.
A running junction between the Midland and LNW was restored in early LMS days and was used briefly for through running between Leicester and London when the Midland Scottish sleeper was diverted that way towards the end of its life, but between the 1880s and the 1960s the only connection between the two routes was through the exchange sidings.

Agreed for passenger traffic (that really was a peculiar working - one sleeper each way per day, wasn't it?) but were not some mineral trains also routed across to Northampton from the Midland after 1966? The LNW route was closed fully by then, wasn't it? Or did they only have the exchange sidings for traversing here?

Also the APT test train must have used the connection - there were some low-speed work done between Harboro and Northampton c 1974, I thought.
 
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Before the major rebuilding in the 1880s the Midland line and the (earlier) LNW line joined at the south end of the original Market Harborough station and then ran as a two-track railway to the Great Bowden Jn at the level crossing in Main Street, Great Bowden. At this point the Midland left the LNW again to head off to Leicester. The rebuilding separated the two routes completely. A new Market Harborough station was built in the "V" where the two lines came together, the old Harborough Jn being removed, and additional tracks were provided to the north of new station to keep the two routes apart. Between the two routes there were exchange sidings but no running junction. Great Bowden Jn was abolished (along with the level crossing, which was replaced by a bridge, as can still be seen from the road layout), and the Midland continued on the east side of the LNW and began to rise up, so that it could be carried over the LNW by the new flyover bridge. After crossing the LNW it dropped down again to re-join the old alignment at the bridge just short of the present A6 bridge. The old lines remained accessible from the north end as Great Bowden Sidings.
The rather sharp curve over the flyover bridge is responsible for the 85-mph restriction at that location today -- the curve of the old alignment is much gentler.
A running junction between the Midland and LNW was restored in early LMS days and was used briefly for through running between Leicester and London when the Midland Scottish sleeper was diverted that way towards the end of its life, but between the 1880s and the 1960s the only connection between the two routes was through the exchange sidings.

Really interesting thanks. So does the works at Market Harbrough involve resorting the old allignment or straightening the track through the station?
 

InTheEastMids

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Really interesting thanks. So does the works at Market Harbrough involve resorting the old allignment or straightening the track through the station?

Both. Probably.

The reversion to the original MML alignment would be North of Great Bowden
You can quite easily see where the original alignment went to the west of the current on Google Earth:

Google Maps

The straightening is at the station, and will presumably take the line across the station car park, closer to Great Bowden Road than today. This means the car park needs to move to the East side, and that's where an entirely new station will/should/could be constructed, accessed directly from Rockingham Road

But it looks like the next level of detail will have to wait until the end of the month, as only the Council have been shown the plans, rail users and taxpayers are further down the pecking order ;)
 

Hairy Bear

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Sounds like the proposals could cost a fair few millions!

Current quote is 30 mil. Remarkable value to save 30 secs and with 2 out of 4 trains stopping anyway ...why bother. Just spend some of the money raising the platform heights and extending them to accomodate 10 cars and the worlds a happier place.
 

The Planner

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But regardless that 30 seconds does have a monetary value in terms of journey time.
 

furnessvale

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You can bet your last penny that the revised curve through Market Harborough will have the maximum amount of cant applied.

Probably but by no means a certainty.

The amount of superelevation applied is a balancing act between maximising the speed available to the fastest trains and allowable levels of cant deficiency, but also the effect of this cant on slower freights or stopping trains.

Overdo it one way or the other and excessive rail wear will result.
 

t o m

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If you look at an aerial view you can see that the waiting room and toilets at the top of the ramp on platform one were built at an angle for the planned straightening of the track. These were built back in the 70's I think.

I also believe there is a loop planned where the existing track and sidings are.
 
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Senex

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If you look at an aerial view you can see that the waiting room and toilets at the top of the ramp on platform one were built at an angle for the planned straightening of the track. These were built back in the 70's I think.

I also believe there is a loop planned where the existing track and sidings are.
The work was done in 1977 and was indeed planned to take account of the proposed re-alignment. When the Leicester MAS scheme was being planned it was at first assumed that this work would be done and the facing and trailing crossovers were to be on straight track north of the station. When the scheme was de-scoped their location was moved to south of the station on a heavily-canted curve, which is less than ideal.
From the information I saw painted on the track the curve sharpens as it comes into the station from the south (a result of what was done in 1884) to 28¼ chains radius with 5 inches of superelvation. Part of the difficulty is that following the right-hand curve you go straight into a left-hander, so the length of the transitions is a significant issue. (I'm pretty sure my memory is correct that you could stand beside an HST in the platform and see the front tilting one way and the rear another.) As to the time that can be saved, I thought I'd seen a reference somewhere to 1½ minutes in one direction and 1 minute the other -- but my memory could be playing tricks.

The double junction with the Rugby (and Northampton) line came into use on 27 July 1924, with excursion trains using it from that date and then a new Leicester-Northampton service of two trains a day each way from 22 September 1924. Its end is quite interesting. The Midland Scottish sleeper was diverted this way from the closure of the Waverley line on 6 January 1969 until its withdrawal on 1 May 1972. But there were then procedural objections and the 1:40 a.m. Euston to Northampton newspaper train, which conveyed a BSK, was extended to Leicester SX from 10 July. The May 1973 timetable substituted a 12:10 a.m. MX Northampton to Leicester, which ran for the last time on Saturday, 25 August 1973. The junction was removed in the early 1980s in two separate stages. There was of course also some freight use of this connection, but I never bothered to find out anything particular about that.

Great Bowden Sidings SB lay a little to the north of the flyover bridge (near the 84¼ milepost IIRC) and was closed in October 1972. Passenger trains had last used the original Midland alignment between 15 and 22 October 1929 when the flyover bridge was being replaced (necessitating a temporary connection at Great Bowden).
 

LTJ87

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The overall journey time improvement may seem small but it is part of a package of improvements and it really is time the MML benefited from investment which has historically been peanuts compared to the ECML and WCML.
 

Senex

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The overall journey time improvement may seem small but it is part of a package of improvements and it really is time the MML benefited from investment which has historically been peanuts compared to the ECML and WCML.
It's always worth remembering that the conversion of the ECML into the very fast railway it is today is the result of a string of interventions each winning back a relatively small amount of time -- but they didn't half add up!
We began to see similar progress on the MML when the ICMXC sub-sector was created, but it didn't last. Now something is happening, but costs are so much higher these days.
 

Senex

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Given which I wonder if there has ever been a study for an eastern avoiding loop at Wellingborough
The original plan for the line would have done that. Blame George Hudson for what we've got!
 

70014IronDuke

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Current quote is 30 mil. Remarkable value to save 30 secs and with 2 out of 4 trains stopping anyway ...why bother. Just spend some of the money raising the platform heights and extending them to accomodate 10 cars and the worlds a happier place.

Before this "30 seconds" becomes 'the truth' (or I get accused of spreading falsehood) may I just say this was just my guestimate. (actually, originally, it was "barely 30 seconds" - I suspect it may be even less - though this is not to belittle the saving. )
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
...
As to the time that can be saved, I thought I'd seen a reference somewhere to 1½ minutes in one direction and 1 minute the other -- but my memory could be playing tricks.
......

Well, this would be for a 45/1 + 9 x IIDs - I can quite believe it, especially in the up.

The PSR in the 70s was 55 mph, wasn't it? So the express came round the curve at the foot of Desborough Bank at 55 - and then faced a climb of about 3.75 miles (I'm working from memory, so may not be quite accurate) to the summit. I rarely used the expresses, but my guess would be that these would be struggling to be above 60 mph at the summit.

If you could attack the climb at, say, 70 mph (I'm guessing the new speed restriction) you'd probably be down to about 60-65 at Desborough summit - so something like 4 miles at an average of, roughly, 10 mph faster.

4 miles at 55 mph average is 4.36 minutes

4 miles at 65 mph average is 3.69 minutes
So saving on that basis of 0.67 minutes, ie about 40 seconds.

That would not include any improvements to the PSR north of Mkt Harborough. And obviously, if you could attack the bank at 75 or 80, you'd have even more time savings.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The original plan for the line would have done that. Blame George Hudson for what we've got!

Oh, so the originally planned alignment would have avoided Wellingborough?

The route does swing westwards where the former exchange sidings at Wellingborough were, of course, about 1 or 1.5 miles north of Wellingborough station (I assume the sidings have been long removed?) - only to swing back again quite sharply eastwards through and south of wellingboro station.

Interesting. If the land is still free, maybe they could build an avoiding line still today - would allow expresses to pass stoppers, wouldn't it?
 
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