diamond geezer

 Saturday, December 02, 2017

Anorak Corner [National Rail edition]

It's time once again for the annual splurge of passenger data from across Britain's railway network, covering the period April 2016 to March 2017.

London's ten busiest National Rail stations (2016/17) (with changes since 2015/16)
  1) -- Waterloo (99m)
-- Victoria (76m)
-- Liverpool Street (67m)
-- London Bridge (48m)
-- Euston (44m)
-- Stratford (42m)
-- Paddington (36m)
-- King's Cross (34m)
↑1 St Pancras (33m)
↓1 Clapham Junction (31m)

London's Rail Top 10 is filled by the same ten stations as last year, and in almost the same positions. Waterloo is still easily top of the list, with Victoria and Liverpool Street sitting comfortably behind. The only change is at the bottom, with St Pancras and Clapham Junction changing places, which is likely due to industrial action on Southern across the sample period. Victoria actually lost 6m passengers this year, probably for the same reason, while London Bridge is also 6m down, in this case because of engineering works and closed platforms.

London's ten busiest National Rail stations that aren't central London termini (2016/17)
  1) -- Stratford (42m)
-- Clapham Junction (31m)
-- Highbury & Islington (30m)
↑1 Canada Water (25m)
↓1 East Croydon (23m)
-- Vauxhall (22m)
-- Wimbledon (20m)
-- Whitechapel (14m)
-- Barking (13m)
-- Richmond (12m)

Once you strip out the central London termini a rather different picture appears, and it's substantially orange. The majority of this Top 10 features stations with an Overground service - not always the main flow, but boosting passenger numbers all the same. Canada Water is the only climber, creeping ahead of East Croydon, although as a TfL station served only by TfL services it doesn't really feel like it belongs here. So let's do this...

London's ten busiest non-TfL stations outside zone 1 (2016/17)
  1) -- Clapham Junction (31m)
-- East Croydon (23m)
-- Wimbledon (20m)
-- Barking (13m)
-- Richmond (12m)
-- Lewisham (11m)
↑1 Surbiton (9.4m)
↑1 Putney (8.9m)
↓2 Balham (8.8m)
-- Bromley South (8.5m)

Here's a more traditional-looking list, focusing on suburban commuter traffic, with stations operated by the Overground and TfL Rail stripped out. Only Balham slips down this year, again most probably due to industrial action on Southern. Other than Barking, see how all the big-hitters are south of the river. For comparison purposes, North Greenwich tube sees over 26m passengers a year, so is busier than all but one of the stations listed above. But remember that these are only figures for entries and exits. Clapham Junction's total doubles if you include interchanges, and interchanges also account for a large proportion of the crowds using East Croydon and Lewisham.

London's ten least busy Overground stations (2016/17)
  1) Woodgrange Park (196,000) ↓80%
Leytonstone High Road (210,000) ↓78%
Wanstead Park (213,000) ↓79%
Walthamstow Queens Road (219,000) ↓77%
Emerson Park (278,000) ↑7%
Crouch Hill (285,000) ↓66%
Leyton Midland Road (287,000) ↓79%
Harringay Green Lanes (409,000) ↓71%
South Tottenham (410,000) ↓70%
Upper Holloway (415,000) ↓68%

This is a disaster area. The Gospel Oak to Barking line was closed for nine months during the survey period, either totally or in part, and this is the result. East of South Tottenham the line was closed from June 2016 to February 2017, so these are the stations at the sharp end of the list, with slumps in passenger numbers in the order of 80%. West of South Tottenham the line was closed at weekends for the first four months, then fully shut for the next five, so they've 'only' slumped by around 70%. Given that the electrification debacle didn't actually manage to complete the work, and further closures have been made since, expect next year's figures to show only a partial restoration. Emerson Park on the runty Romford-Upminster line is the sole outlier in this list - last year the least used Overground station, but this year with passenger numbers up 7%.

London's ten least busy National Rail stations (2016/17)
  1) -- Angel Road (34000)
-- Sudbury & Harrow Road (38000)
-- South Greenford (53000)
-- Sudbury Hill Harrow (69000)
-- Morden South (72000)
-- Birkbeck (83000)
↑2 Drayton Green (102000)
-- South Merton (114000)
↓2 Crews Hill (133000)
-- Belmont (137000)

Unusually, this Bottom 10 is remarkably similar to last year's. Normally these stations swap around a lot, but this year only Drayton Green and Crews Hill change places. Angel Road remains London's least used station, but should lose that crown in three years time when it's reborn as Meridian Water. Sudbury & Harrow Road has earned a better daytime service recently, but its passenger boost isn't enough to exit penultimate position. All the stations on the Greenford branch are losing traffic, likely related to the severance of direct trains to Paddington last Christmas. Meanwhile Birkbeck suffered during last year's industrial action when Southern temporarily axed all its services, but again not enough to change position.

OK, enough of London.

The UK's ten busiest National Rail stations that aren't in London (2016/17)
  1) -- Birmingham New Street (42m)
  2) -- Glasgow Central (32m)
  3) -- Leeds (31m)
  4) -- Manchester Piccadilly (28m)
  5) -- Edinburgh (23m)
  6) -- Gatwick Airport (19m)
  7) ↑1 Reading (17m)
  8) ↑2 Liverpool Central (16.04m)
  9) ↓2 Brighton (15.99m)
10) ↑1 Liverpool Lime Street (15.6m)

It's no change at the top, indeed no change in the top six. Newly revamped Birmingham New Street remains at the top, and is the only station outside London to make it into the national Top Ten, slotting inbetween Euston and Stratford. Glasgow Central remains in second place, but a lengthy closure at Glasgow Queen Street has allowed Liverpool Lime Street to nudge it out of the list, giving Merseyside a double presence. Brighton is the only one of these ten stations to have lost passengers this year, and again Southern industrial action must be to blame. The only other stations outside London to exceed 10 million passengers are Cardiff Central, Cambridge and Bristol Temple Meads.

The UK's eleven least busy National Rail stations (2016/17)
  1) ↑4 Barry Links (24)
↑6 Tees-Side Airport (30)
↑11 Breich (48)
↑38 British Steel Redcar (50)
↑12 Kildonan (76)
↓4 Reddish South (94)
↑9 Golf Street (104)
↑7 Havenhouse (106)
↑4 Buckenham (122)
↑11 Elton & Orston (128)
↓3 Stanlow & Thornton (128)

Finally, here's the list everyone finds the most intriguing. These are the stations that can't even muster a dozen passengers a month, such is the inaccessibility of their location or the paucity of their service.

The 'least used' rankings are often volatile, as you'd expect when dealing with very small numbers, but this year they're all over the place. Barry Links on the east coast of Scotland has sprung into pole position, with 80 fewer passengers than its neighbour Golf Street. Teesside Airport, which was the least used station from 2010 to 2013, has slumped again after being relatively popular last year. Breich has recently been rescued from closure, despite only having four passengers a month. British Steel Redcar's woes are due to the majority of the steelworks closing in 2015. All of the bottom five are either in Scotland or the North East. A tie for tenth place means we have a Bottom 11 this year.

There's also a story to be told about the stations which are no longer listed here. Shippea Hill is now only number 14, thanks to publicity it gathered by being last year's least used (not Geoff & Vicki's incursion, which'll affect figures in 2017/18). Liskeard Museum apparently sent a troop of passengers to Coombe Junction, whose rating shifts from 4th to 18th. Pilning has a passionate users group whose campaigns have successfully boosted ridership by 400%, from 3rd place to only 20th. Least Used stations don't always remain least used, there's always hope. But when there are still 25 stations which can't even muster an average of one passenger per day, we perhaps ought to question the service they're receiving.

» Rail passenger data here (total annual entry and exit frequencies)
» Previous updates: 15/16 14/15, 13/14, 12/13, 11/12, 10/11, 09/10, 08/09, 07/08, 06/07, 05/06

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