13 July 2008

Latest rail station usage data

The Office of Rail Regulation has released the latest data for the 2,519 rail stations that are managed by Network Rail in mainland Britain. Based on sales, for each station a total usage figure has been calculated that comprises all journeys that either end or start at each for the financial year 2006/7. Additionally the number of passengers using each station as an interchange point between trains has been calculated.

Stations not included are those served wholly by London Underground. Data from the previous year's calculations (2005/6) has also been given and is easily comparable with the current details and thus each station can be denoted as whether it has seen growth or not.

However, be warned: a growth percentage of 99.9% for one of the stations in the LEYTR area - Gainsborough Central - stuck out like a sore thumb. Gainsborough Central sees three eastbound and three westbound departures on Saturdays only - a total of 6 trains per week and scored 2,519th in last year's figures, i.e. the least-used rail station on the National Rail network; this year it has risen 608 places and has a total usage of 33,271! How? Well the accompanying file, that should be read in conjunction with the latest data, explains all.

There have been four major changes to the way in which the data has been compiled and shown since the station usage data was first produced in the financial year 1997/8. The one that we're most interested in is that the ORR "have changed the methodology for journeys made to and from group stations (including London)".

Manchester is given as an example, although the same principle is applied to Gainsborough, which has two stations: Lea Road and Central. In previous years' data all journeys to/from Manchester were shown on tickets as "Manchester Stations"; this included Piccadilly, Deansgate and Oxford Road, except the station usage data was attributed to Piccadilly. In an attempt to show a better representation of Deansgate and Oxford Road stations' usage, a formula has been adopted that, assuming the total number travelling from any of the stations in the group is over 1,000 p/a, should give a true and accurate reflexion of the total usage of each.

Unfortunately as Gainsborough Central's total usage for 2005/06 was a mere 21 passengers this has artificially inflated the data to (an impressive) 33,271 for the latest data. This equates to 640 passengers starting or ending their journey each Saturday, or, more impressively, a staggering 107 per individual train!! This individual train figure is more than 5 times greater than last year's annual total for the station. The culprit? Gainsborough Lea Road, which sees regular, daily service between Lincoln and Sheffield and an annual total usage figure well in excess of 1,000. We assume that because one of the group stations (Lea Road) meets the criteria, the formula is applied despite the other(s) (Central) not meeting the criteria.

Despite the statistical warning (any statastitian will always be wary of any such usage tables) a broad consensus can be agreed upon for the busiest and quietest rail stations in the UK. No one can be in any doubt that London Waterloo, with it's 84 million annual usage, is in its rightful place at the top of the list. Below are the top 10 stations in all three categories:

Top 10 most used stations 2006/7
  1. London Waterloo, 83.9 million
  2. London Victoria, 66.7 million
  3. London Liverpool Street, 55.2 million
  4. London Bridge, 47.5 million
  5. London Charing Cross, 34.7 million
  6. London Paddington, 27.2 million
  7. London Euston, 25.5 million
  8. London King's Cross, 22.5 million
  9. London Cannon Street, 21.1 million
  10. Glasgow Central, 21.0 million
Bottom 10 least used stations 2006/7
  1. Tyndrum Lower, 17
  2. Buckenham, 22
  3. Coombe Halt, 32
  4. Golf Street, 38
  5. Barry Links, 44
  6. Denton, 65
  7. Sugar Loaf, 67
  8. Breich, 75
  9. Dorking West, 79
  10. Thorne South, 79
Top 10 most used interchanges 2006/7
  1. Clapham Junction, 12.8 million
  2. London Bridge, 7.7 million
  3. East Croydon, 5.1 million
  4. London Waterloo, 4.2 million
  5. Birmingham New Street, 3.7 million
  6. London Victoria, 3.2 million
  7. Leeds, 2.8 million
  8. Reading, 2.6 million
  9. London King's Cross, 2.1 million
  10. London Euston, 1.9 million
Bottom 10 least used interchanges 2006/7**
  1. Rose Grove, 3
  2. Burnley Manchester Road, 5
  3. Upper Warlingham, 6
  4. Bootle New Strand, 6
  5. Long Preston, 9
  6. Upper Tyndrum, 13
  7. Smethwick Rolfe Street, 23
  8. Fishguard Harbour, 27
  9. Stockton, 28
  10. King's Lynn, 29
** - only 510 of the 2,519 stations can be used as an interchange point

We've spent some time analysing the 64 rail stations in the LEYTR area and this will be included in the forthcoming July/August edition.