Major changes in line for Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough train services
New late-night and early morning rail services from Corby and four trains per hour from Kettering to the capital are among a raft of proposals that passengers are being consulted on.
The new operators of the Midland Mainline franchise East Midlands Railway (EMR) have begun a timetable consultation into their planned changes to the services from the three towns to and from the capital and to the north that are due to be introduced this time next year.
Their proposals would see Kettering become a major interchange and Corby get its longed-for second service per hour. But direct services from Wellingborough to the north would be cancelled with passengers having to change at Kettering.
Most trains will now have 12 carriages with about 600 seats per train - 40 per cent more than at present.
Our section of the line, which will be rebranded EMR Electrics, would lose its Class 222 Meridian carriages which will be replaced with older Class 360 Desiros. A promised refurbishment of these second-hand trains will now not be able to take place before December 2020 when the changes are due to come into force. This means that they will initially have a 3+2 seat layout and small first class sections.
EMR says that the trains will not be significantly slower as they are quicker at accelerating and wider doors mean passengers can get on and off more quickly but there will be a slight increase in journey times.
Dutch firm Abellio took over the franchise to run the line in August and will be in charge for eight years. As part of the contract they had to commit to separating off the line to Corby from the line going north to Sheffield and Nottingham.
Environmentally-friendly bi-mode trains that are being introduced to the remainder of the East Midlands Railway network will not be brought in on our section of the network.
Wellingborough passengers have previously expressed their upset over what they said was a downgrading of their service.
Many are concerned that they will no longer have any direct trains north and will have a reduced service to London.
In their consultation document, East Midlands Railway say that it is not possible for the intercity trains to stop at Wellingborough because it would add a 'significant' time on to the journeys of Nottingham and Sheffield passengers.
Rail campaigner David Fursdon who spent years trying to persuade the authorities to reopen Corby Railway Station, said: "This represents quite an investment in Corby. We are in our tenth year of reopening and there are now 300,000 passengers per year travelling from Corby.
"Sometimes we do feel a bit like the poor relations in terms of the booking office opening hours but I have to say the MP has supported us and got things sorted when we've approached him.
"It's a bit disappointing that we are getting the older trains but we will continue to keep up the pressure so that they get fully refurbished.
"We'll be continuing to campaign to get the best service possible."
Some of the key changes for passengers from each station are as follows:
The station, which turned ten this year, will get two trains per hour to the capital instead of its present one train. Services will run every 30 minutes. There will be a new, earlier service at about 4.40am to St Pancras to serve London commuters. The earliest train at present leaves Corby at 6.38am which leaves Corby passengers driving to Kettering to get the earlier train from there.
There will also be six trains from London that arrive in Corby before 10am - currently there is only one.
There will also be a new late-night service back from the capital to Corby leaving at 11.55pm giving people from the town chance to have a decent night out in London without having to stay over.
Abellio are also proposing to introduce a new hourly Sunday service between Corby and London. The service to Melton via Oakham will be maintained and a return service added at around midday.
Trains from Corby will all stop at Luton Airport Parkway.
Corby will no longer be an Intercity line but passengers are not likely to see any fare decreases.
Kettering will become a more important interchange on the line with passengers travelling north from London on the EMR Electrics line changing at the station to go north.
There will be an increased number of services to/from London St Pancras International, with four trains running in each direction most hours. There are currently normally two per hour.
Passengers will have the choice between the EMR Intercity (direct to London St Pancras International) services or the EMR Electrics (calling at all stations) services
There will be an earlier train into London, with the earliest service now due to arrive at about 6am. There will also be a later departure from Kettering to London St Pancras International, with the final service to depart Kettering about 20 minutes later than the last train at present.
The latest weekday service departing London St Pancras International is planned to be around 20 minutes earlier than the current final departure, but is planned to run with an improved journey time.
The average journey time for peak morning services on the intercity trains to London (two per hour) will drop from 1h 22min to 1h 10min. The average standard journey time will drop from 1h 15min to 1h 8min
Wellingborough will lose its direct northbound services to and from Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham. Passengers will only be able to go as far north as Corby unless they change at Kettering. Those travelling to Nottingham will have a nine-minute connection time at Kettering.
Those who want to travel to Sheffield and Derby will also have to change at Leicester where there will be around a 20 minute wait.
Faster direct services from our area to London St Pancras will also be cancelled - with both trains per hour now stopping at all stations from Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford, Luton and a new stop at Luton Airport Parkway with whom Abellio have a partnership agreement’.
There will be an extra train from Wellingborough to London 30 minutes later than the existing service and there will be a second train per hour to Corby.
A bus service that currently operates between Wellingborough and Bedford during peak hours will finally be replaced with a train.
The full consultation document can be read here and there are details on how to respond to it at the end of the document. The closing date is February 15 and the responses will help EMR to decide on its final proposals that it will put to the regulator in March.