Big changes to Kettering, Wellingborough and Corby train services delayed until next year

Coronavirus has caused issues with upgrading the track in time

By Kate Cronin
Monday, 6th July 2020, 7:00 am
Corby Railway Station. Copyright Northants Telegraph
Corby Railway Station. Copyright Northants Telegraph

New train timetables that would have seen an increase in services from Corby and Kettering and a reduction in Wellingborough trains will now not come into play this December.

The lengthy list of proposals included two service every hour plus more early morning, late night and Sunday trains from Corby. But the changes would mean the line would lose its Meridian trains to be serviced by newly-refurbished trains repurposed from Greater Anglia.

The new trains were due to be operational from December

Also on the cards was an increased number of trains from Kettering - with the station becoming a major interchange to service at least four trains to and from St Pancras each hour.

But Wellingborough could have lost its fast trains to London as well as its direct northbound services to stations including Harborough, Leicester and Nottingham.

The changes were timetabled for December but East Midlands Railway, which runs the Midland Mainline, has now said the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed its plans.

An East Midlands Railway & Network Rail spokesperson told the Northants Telegraph: "The coronavirus pandemic has had a profound impact on businesses and industries across the UK - including the railway. As a result, the benefits to EMR passengers we were due to deliver in December 2020 are now planned for May 2021.

"This is due to the requirements of social distancing delaying the electrification of the line between Bedford and Corby as well as the ability to deliver safety-critical staff training. There have also been supply chain issues, complicated by coronavirus, which has affected the whole industry, including delays to the cascade of electric units.

"We are all immensely disappointed by this delay, but given the unprecedented impact of coronavirus and our commitment to ensure major changes in train services are delivered safely and effectively, we have no choice."

Local rail campaigner David Fursdon said: “Although it is disappointing the much awaited two trains an hour to and from Corby are being delayed, everyone's safety is the priority.

“The coronavirus pandemic has put much pressure on EMR and Network Rail so having the new timetable delayed by six months cannot be avoided but will still be a major boost for Corby when it eventually starts in May 2021.

”Now we have an extra six months before the start of the new electric service (EMT Electrics) being introduced I very much hope the cascaded class 360 trains coming from Greater Anglia will now be refurbished completely before they enter service on the Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough route to London St Pancras.

”The planned launch in December would have meant the trains would have not been turned out looking good inside and out so the top priority for passengers is to have the trains totally refurbished with 2 x 2 seating installed removing the cramped 2 x 3 configuration they currently have.

”The delay should ideally now give the EMR Electrics to provide fast, cleaner, greener, comfortable journeys and offering more seats running as twelve carriage trains. I hope EMR can achieve the refurbishment of the trains on time to complement the huge investment of the Midland Mainline upgrade.”