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Interactive railway station usage map shows huge passenger growth, but not everywhere

20 January 2016

Campaign for Better Transport has launched an interactive map that charts railway station usage since 1997 to reveal a massive growth in passenger numbers in many areas, but with huge regional disparities.

The map, which shows 17 years’ worth of entrances and exits at more than 2,500 railway stations in England, Scotland and Wales, reveals that:

  • In 2014/15, an estimated 2.75 billion entries and exits were recorded across the rail network - 1.45 billion more than in 1997/98
  • There are now 686 stations which attract over one million entries and exits each year, compared with 215 in 1997/98
  • Last year 85 stations attracted over five million journeys, compared with 22 in 1997/98.

Whilst passenger growth has been huge in many areas, the map also reveals the growth has been very uneven. Growth in London and the South East has been particularly strong for example, with London Waterloo seeing over 40 million more entries and exits than in 1997, whilst other areas, like Humberside, have been much weaker. Many regional cities have also seen a huge increase in passengers with Leeds station experiencing 18 million more entries and exits than in 1997 and Birmingham New Street experiencing 25 million more.

The map also shows a number of lightly used stations, for example Gainsborough Central in Lincolnshire, which attracted 1,500 journeys in 2014/15 but only has services on Saturdays. Highlighting the potential of such stations the map reveals a number of similarly lightly used stations in 1997 are now thriving, including Needham Market in Suffolk, which has seen 13-fold increases in passengers, and Gowerton in Wales which has seen a 17-fold increase.

Andrew Allen, Policy Analyst at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Overall the railways have grown very strongly in the last 20 years, but this map reveals just how uneven that growth has been. Investment has tended to focus on relieving overcrowding in south east England, while leaving other parts of the country in a time warp.

"Our mapping shows areas which are strong candidates for growth and where targeted investment in better services and even new stations could make a real difference. The government needs to be braver both in anticipating the potential for growth and in getting more places onto the network.”

You can view the map here.


For further information please contact Richard Watkins on 020 7566 6494 / 07984 773 468 or richard.watkins@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. View the map at http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/maps/rail-usage.html
  2. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).
  3. The map was developed by Chris Woods using information published by the Office of Road and Rail: http://orr.gov.uk/statistics/published-stats/station-usage-estimates
  4. Data underpinning the map is gathered by consultants Steer Davies Gleave for the Office for Road and Rail. Taken as a piece, it allows a view of how rail use has evolved over the last 18 years. Given the billions of journeys involved, there have been refinements to the methodology. More details about this can be found on the ORR website: http://orr.gov.uk/statistics/published-stats/station-usage-estimates
  5. There is an active campaign to expand services to and from Gainsborough Central, part of a 72 mile rail line which only has passenger services on Saturday. Further details are available here
  6. Examples of lightly used stations in 1997/98 which have seen large increases in passenger numbers:
Station 1997/98 passenger numbers 2014/15 passenger numbers Percentage increase
Gowerton 5,890 110,076 1769
Dronfield 9,637 162,474 1586
Needham Market 6,259 91,358 1360
Whitlock's End 9,040 129,144 1329
Patchway 6,507 90,404 1289