Hurrah, it's that time of year again when TfL silently updates its spreadsheet of annual passenger entry/exit totals at every tube station.
However, and it is a very big however, 2020's figures are perverse. The figures are calculated for a typical week in autumn then multiplied up to a full year, as usual, but for 2020 this means "the sample window is the period of the UK Government's second national lockdown". Overall ridership is therefore down to 35% of what it was in 2019, so absolutely none of what follows is either normal or consequential.
London's ten busiest tube stations (2020)(with changes since 2019) 1) ↑6 Stratford (25.1m) 2) ↑3 London Bridge (24.7m) 3) ↓1 Victoria (23.0m) 4) ↓3 King's Cross St Pancras (18.8m) 5) ↓2 Waterloo (16.6m) 6) -- Liverpool Street (16.3m) 7) ↑10 Finsbury Park (15.8m) 8) ↑11 Vauxhall (15.5m) 9) ↓5 Oxford Circus (14.6m) 10) ↑29 Barking (14.3m)
This is eye-popping stuff. London's busiest tube station is officially Stratford, not one of the normal big-hitters in central London. During lockdown a lot of people were still using Stratford station to get around, especially those with essential non-office-based jobs. Stratford's total is only 40% of what it normally is, but Waterloo and Oxford Circus only managed 20% allowing East London to leapfrog past. Other non-central railheads performed strongly, for example Finsbury Park and Vauxhall. I confess I never ever expected to see Barking in the top 10 busiest tube stations. London Bridge is the top-performing rail terminus (it's more normally third). The biggest tumble out of the top 10 belongs to Bank/Monument which plummeted from 8th place to 47th.
The next 10: Canary Wharf, Brixton, Paddington, Canning Town, Walthamstow Central, Seven Sisters, Hammersmith (District), South Kensington, Bond Street, North Greenwich
These are mostly stations in zones 2 and 3, whereas normally they'd be stations in zone 1.
London's ten busiest tube stations outside Zone 2 (2020) 1) ↑1 Barking (14.3m) 2) ↓1 Walthamstow Central (10.4m) 3) -- Seven Sisters (10.0m) 4) ↑5 East Ham (8.5m) 5) ↑1 Wembley Park (8.3m) 6) ↑1 Tooting Broadway (8.1m) 7) ↓3 Ealing Broadway (7.7m) 8) ↑4 Leyton (7.3m) 9) ↓2 Tottenham Hale (7.2m) 10) -- Wimbledon (7.0m)
It's also all change beyond zone 2, but the reshuffle isn't quite as extreme as in the centre of town. Again it's tube stations with rail connections that do particularly well, with East Ham, Wembley Park, Tooting Broadway and Leyton the exceptions. Northeast London has a particularly strong showing, which correlates well with TfL's warnings about busy stations during the pandemic. If the list were to continue then Harrow-on-the-Hill (6m) would be the highest performing station in Zone 5 and Uxbridge (4m) the busiest in Zone 6.
The smallest decreases in passenger numbers compared to last year 1) Dagenham East ↓16% 2) Kenton ↓17% 3) Stonebridge Park ↓18% 4) Harlesden ↓19% 5) Becontree ↓20% 6) Barking ↓21% 7) North Wembley ↓22% 8) Willesden Junction ↓22% 9) Dagenham Heathway ↓22% 10) Sudbury Hill ↓24%
You'd expect passenger numbers to have decreased significantly during lockdown but two stretches of two lines have bucked the trend. One's the eastern end of the District line (i.e. Barking & Dagenham) and the other's the northern end of the Bakerloo line (i.e. Brent) where passengers just kept on travelling. Not so many home workers out here, I suspect, and rather more with jobs they needed to travel to.
The largest decreases in passenger numbers compared to last year 1) Heathrow Terminal 4 ↓100% 2) Covent Garden ↓90% 3) Piccadilly Circus ↓89% 4) Bank/Monument ↓89% 5) Leicester Square ↓89% 6) Tottenham Court Road ↓86% 7) Temple ↓85% 8) Mansion House ↓84% 9) Charing Cross ↓83% 10) Blackfriars ↓81%
Blimey, this is savage. Heathrow Terminal 4's big fat zero is because it's been closed to passengers since last May (and the data is based on autumn travel). All the rest of the top 10 decreases are in zone 1, with passenger numbers in the West End utterly diminished compared to normal. Lack of tourists and lack of shoppers have contributed to killing off traffic, not just people staying away from the office. Astonishingly zone 1 and Heathrow account for the entire Top 50 biggest decreases, a sequence eventually broken by Richmond (↓73%) in 52nd place.
Let's see what all this has done to my favourite list of the year...
London's 10 least busy tube stations (2020) 1) Kensington (Olympia) (35000) 2) Roding Valley (190000) 3) Chigwell (247000) 4) Grange Hill (297000) 5) ↑1 Theydon Bois (493000) 6) ↓1 North Ealing (507000) 7) ↑4 Croxley (515000) 8) Ruislip Gardens (549000) 9) ↑1 Ickenham (555000) 10) ↓3 Moor Park (593000)
Discounting Heathrow T4, the least used station on the Underground remains poor old Kensington (Olympia), because that's what weekend-only trains (and a tiny handful of weekday-ers) does for you. It has a pitiful total... less than a fifth of the passengers at the second least used station, which continues to be Roding Valley. The Essex end of the Central line has a very strong showing including all three stops on the Hainault shuttle, as per usual. Passenger numbers may have tumbled here, as everywhere else, but a lesser used station will always be a lesser used station.
The next ten least busy stations: Chesham, West Finchley, Fairlop, West Harrow, West Ruislip, Chorleywood, Upminster Bridge, Mill Hill East, Chalfont & Latimer, West Acton
And while we're here...
DLR Top 5: Canning Town (11m), Stratford, Bank, Woolwich Arsenal, Lewisham DLR Bottom 5: Beckton Park (166000), West India Quay, Pudding Mill Lane, Royal Albert, Custom House
Overground Top 5: Stratford (11m), Clapham Junction, Canada Water, Highbury & Islington, Willesden Junction Overground Bottom 5: Emerson Park (120000), Cheshunt, Upminster, Bushey, South Kenton
TfL Rail Top 5: Liverpool Street (9m), Stratford, Paddington, Romford, Ilford TfL Rail Bottom 5: Heathrow Terminal 4 (0), Twyford (13000), Taplow, Iver, Langley