Seasonal Area April 2012 – and the 2010-11 rail passenger usage figures

The latest Seasonal Area picture has made it online.

It features a new area for me – the bottom end of the Cotswolds. Haven’t had a picture from the Cotswolds before. I like this bit of the Thames Valley. It helps that it’s been quite warm lately so I can amble idly through the soft grass in the bright sunshine.

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The latest passenger figures for the British rail network are out. My enthusiastic coverage of these figures – which actually relate to the 2010-11 financial year which finished 12 months ago – probably justifies its own blogpost, but won’t get one.

In brief:

– 2,313,793,045 entries and exits were made.

– This is made up of 1,156,896,521 entries and 1,156,896,524 exits – around a seventh of the world population. Will the three people who managed to exit the rail network without entering it please stand up.

– It is up from the 2009-10 figure of 2,130,057,657 by some 8.6%, despite rising fare prices and a recession serving to drive away passengers from the network.

– It does not include Rover tickets, Eurostar, Heathrow Express or the London Underground, except where disengaging the Underground is a bit difficult (places like Ealing Broadway and Barking).

– The country’s busiest station remains London Waterloo – up to 91,750,382 passengers per annum from 86,397,666 people. (This is roughly equivalent to everyone in the country visiting London Waterloo one and a half times in the last year.)

– The busiest station outside London is Glasgow Central, with 24,950,987 entries and exits (up by 1.1 million from 23,809,949).

– London Marylebone is the busiest station in the country where none of the National Rail platforms are electrified (with 13,200,221 entrances and exits). Busier stations which are largely unelectrified are Glasgow Queen Street (where the Low Level platforms are electrified and there were 19,742,406 entries and exits) and Reading (where the Southern platforms – now 4-6 – are electrified and there were 14,400,405 entries and exits).

– No station has more passengers than its corresponding principal London Terminal, although two stations are busier than core London stations which can be directly reached from those stations – Finsbury Park is busier than Moorgate and Gatwick Airport is busier than Blackfriars. Gatwick Airport tends to feed Victoria and Finsbury Park is more targeted at King’s Cross.

– The busiest station in Wales is, not very surprisingly, Cardiff Central – up to 11,259,968 from 10,742,546.

– 465 stations had over a million entries and exits, against 430 last year (over 2755 per working day). Clapton comes in at 466, missing the target by exactly 600 passengers ¬†because someone forgot to “capture” Oyster customers until January 2011. Tooting scrapes just above it by 590 entrances and exits.

– 1280 stations had over 100,000 entries and exits (over 275 per working day).

– We have 2531 stations in this country, up from 2526 last year, from Abbey Wood to Ystrad Rhondda.

– 15 stations have been added to the rail network (ten appear to have vanished), adding some 13,823,191 new passengers to the network. 10 of these are on the East London Line; Shoreditch High Street is the most successful of these, with 3,068,578 passengers for a new station opened partway through the year. The least popular of the “new” stations are the ones that were actually already open – Okehampton and Sampford Courtenay on the truncated Withered Arm mainline between Exeter and Plymouth – but only have a seasonal service and are only now featuring in the figures. Oke had 3,622 passengers and Sampy got 76. This is for 5 trains per day on 16 Sundays of the year – 46 entries and exits across two stations per train. Make this up to an average of 14 trains per day on 363 days per year and we get 234,915 entries and exits per annum.

– The median station is Alfreton, with 205,306 entries and exits per annum.

– The mean station usage level is 914,181. The closest to this was Albany Park, with 913,852 entrances and exits (a drop of some 6,000).

– The Icelandic volcano eruption two years ago gets the credit for passenger level increases of 7,000 at Fishguard Harbour and 55,000 at Holyhead, with additional foot passengers going to Ireland by ferry. (Holyhead will probably see this figure drop back towards normal in 2011-12. Fishguard has had a serious increase in service level and should see something of a boom.)

– 58 stations failed to make 1,000 entries and exits per annum. Tal-y-Cafn failed to escape this dubious honour by 12 entries and exits; Garth (Powys) held above it by 32 (down from 1,064 last year).

– 10 stations failed to make 100 entries and exits per annum; 5 of these were over 100 last year and Dorking West made over 1,000. With a 98.7% drop (from 1,810 to 22) it must rank as the greatest fall in passenger numbers across the network. Since 1,810 is too low for statistically viable evaluation, no reason is given for this fall in popularity. Sugar Loaf tied with Elton & Orston on 84 (which is probably the mode station usage level), Havenhouse received exactly 100 and Buckenham obtained 106.

– Three stations failed to make 50 entries and exits, up from 1 last year.

– Of these three, Coombe Junction (in Cornwall) now ranks third, vice first, having obtained 38 (3 per month). Everyone using Coombe appears to have bought a return ticket and only 5 of these people paid full fare.

– Dorking West had 22 passengers (less than 2 per month), of which only 8 (4 in, 4 out) paid full fare. The people who made 596 entrances and exits on season tickets last year unanimously decided not to renew them. Dorking West thereby returns to its previous disgrace; in 2008-09 it had some 104 passengers (so 22 is still a new low).

РCoombe Junction was the runaway least popular station in Britain in 2009-10, with a margin of 26 passengers separating it from the next least popular.  (The previous year it was a comfortable seventh.) For 2010-11, the status returns to long-time holder Tees-Side Airport, which scrapes in below Dorking West with a really quite remarkable 18 entrances and exits per annum Рan average of 1.5 per month. Six of these paid full fare, 3 did not and, once again, all appear to have bought return tickets.

 

It should be noted that none of these superlatively unpopular stations are at any risk of closure, since the costs of closing them vastly outweigh the savings to be made from doing so. In any event, if you put up a closure notice at Tees-Side Airport station for a month it is entirely possible that nobody will use the station and see it, which is probably some form of grounds for judicial review.

For personal note, the busiest station on the Falmouth branch is now Penryn, with Falmouth Town second, Penmere third, Falmouth Docks fourth and Perranwell fifth. All five have over 20,000 passengers per annum. Truro still has over a million passengers per annum (up by 120,000) and remains Cornwall’s busiest station. It’s roughly half as busy as Plymouth and twice as busy as Penzance.

Apart from Coombe Junction, which was never built to be anything more than an empty platform next to a run-round loop and had no pretensions about offering a service to anyone, all the Cornish stations have made it over the 1,000 passengers per annum mark. 21 of the 36 exceeded 50,000 entrances and exits per annum and 15 of them got over 100,000.

The Gunnislake branch is also up sharply and continues to fulfil its vital role of giving us all some nice fat figures to rub in the faces of the road lobby. Particularly since the now closed but once more profitable Bodmin to Padstow line, with its three major stations that were surrounded by town centres rather than rural cottages and fields, can only attract enough passengers for a minibus – despite its much larger local population and more frequent service than that offered to Gunnislake. Gunnislake can happily fill a Sprinter.

Caldicot got 83,292, Chepstow notched up 188,374 and Lydney clawed in 149,860. Since Chepstow and Lydney had a service frequency increase in May 2011, the figures next year should be very juicy indeed. These three happily show the benefits of consistent, reliable trains (all three were equal, with an infrequent service), for a reasonable price (not bad) serving a decent size of community (particularly Chepstow and Lydney) with an attractive station (mainly Chepstow, but also Lydney) with facilities (Chepstow has a booking office and a privately-run refreshment room) which is convenient for said community (Chepstow and Caldicot). Note how the station which ticks the most of those boxes got the most passengers. Lydney’s spacious car park compared to Chepstow’s smaller and tattier one doesn’t seem to have helped.

On a slightly older personal note, Kettering is down 98 passengers from 989,516 to 989,418. This can probably be attributed to the opening of Corby station, which in its first full year attracted some 176,706 entrances and exits (up from 115,372 in the almost full year that preceded it). When Corby opened Kettering fell more heavily from 1,112,390, but since the two stations now attract 1,166,124 entrances and exits between them we can claim to be up on the deal.

Anyway, another very successful year all round. While it’s now too late to affect the results for 2011-12, do feel free to bear these calculations in mind when deciding which stations to lend your support to in 2012-13.