East Midlands Leicester 30-jul-2023

N2MH -making the best decision on the best information

The welcome injection of £9.2bn of HS2 monies into the East Midlands is welcome.


However, it is surely of concern that Northampton also in the East Midlands would appear to be omitted. 
Surely a very small part of this promised money, could be allocated in fully examining potential enhanced railway capacity in North Northamptonshire and South Leicestershire an area of noted transport exclusion?

One such example is the Northampton to Market Harborough Railway (N2MH) which linked the West and East Coast mainlines – currently the two busiest lines in the UK, and providing a valuable east West corridor. N2MH was Closed to passengers in the 1960’s, to freight in 1981 and subsequently lifted. It is indeed then surprising that the full potential benefits of reopening N2MH has never been comprehensively assessed.

An interim 2020 study from Network Rail was incomplete in many i key areas. Also, important key facts such as estimated passenger and freight numbers are still not released, despite FOI requests, on sensitive commercial grounds. To date all completed UK Rail reopening schemes have exceeded their most optimistic passenger estimates
two facts that the NR 2020 interim report it did release though were firstly that full restoration of the line was indeed possible – a full civil engineering report was including for a new rail section south of Market Harborough. Secondly, that the journey time between Northampton and Leicester (currently in excess of 90 minutes with 2 changes) would be cut to under 35 minutes (including 3 stops), Such a dramatic reduction in journey time, would transform commuting within the East Midlands. Furthermore, with the opening of East West Rail, a reopened N2MH would make it potentially practical to commute between Leicester and Oxford.


N2MH cannot be considered for taking forward unless it has been comprehensively assessed, but this absence effectively stops any consideration of its future development.
Within Northampton there are rising concerns about excessive mortality due to air pollution, recently reported as being the worst in the UK.



Demonstrating is one thing, providing solutions is another. Surely a completed, up-to-date and fully comprehensive study into N2MH should be undertaken so that our elected representatives and transport bodies advising them can determine what can be both gained and lost on N2MH. 

British Regional Transport Association (BRTA) is a voluntary-based group advocating local rail solutions and better public transport generally. https://ertarail.co.uk/