Waterloo passengers . Courtesy of Phil Marsh

Britain’s most popular stations?

Published 18th April 2013

Britain’s passenger statistics revealed

The Office of The Rail Regulation (ORR) has published some statistics which reveal Britain’s busiest stations and interchanges. The figures show that rail travel continues inexorably to increase despite the economic difficulties in the 12 months up to March 2012.

London’s Waterloo has remained the UK’s busiest station passengers with an estimated 94,045,510 passenger entries and exits - an increase of 2.5% over the previous year.

Southwest Trains are forecasting a relentless rise in their passenger numbers and will be using the former Eurostar platform, No. 20, at Waterloo from December this year. They would like to use the other three unused former Eurostar platforms but the Department for Transport are still prevaricating over this.

London’s Victoria is runner up as 2nd busiest UK station with 76,231,290 passenger entries and exits, up 3.6% in the last year with London’s Liverpool Street third, with nearly 20 million passengers less at 57,106,502 an increase of 2.4%.

London’s grip on the top ten is demonstrated with only Birmingham New Street and Glasgow Central at eighth and tenth respectively being the only non London stations in the top ten. They boasted 31,213,842 passengers (up 26.4%)* and tenth with 26, 639, 418 (up 6.8%) respectively.

Vital statistics

So how are the above statistics compiled? They are an estimate of the number of passengers travelling to and from each station (entries and exits) and based on electronic ticket sales data recorded in rail industry systems. It must be remembered that the statistics, while vital for planning purposes, are estimates based on good information but not 100% accurate.

Why are the exact numbers impossible to calculate?

In urban areas, local authorities issue travel passes such as Oyster in London. Because these passes are valid on many different services estimates have to be made. This has been identified as a particular issue as it were in the London Travelcard Area and Passenger Transport Executive areas such as Tyne and Wear and Merseyrail for example. These PTEs also provide free travel for many people so again estimates have to be made often based on surveys.

Many readers will have seen their tickets bearing the legend, London Terminals for example, which again means that the precise station used may not be evident so again, estimates of where passengers travel to and from have to be made.

Ticket gates and timetables

The provision of automatic ticket gates changes passengers’ travel habits and can distort statistics. Of that as well as neighbouring stations, especially the report says, in the months following the installation of gates.

When a new timetable is introduced with maybe more or faster trains such as London Midland’s Project 110, this can also affect usage patterns in both directions. A station with an improved service will take passengers from an adjacent station for example. Car park provision will also have a material effect on station patronage.

Engineering Work

Where significant engineering work is taking place, such as at reading station currently which is about to spread out across the Great west main Line as electrification is carried out, passengers may seek alternative stations for a while to avoid the disruption.

Sporting and other public events such as festivals will have a huge effect on station usage. The Olympics will throw out some clear examples of this when last year’s figures are released.

Top 10 Stations in the 2011/12 survey

Rank This Year, Station Name , 2011/12 Entries & Exits , 2010/11 Entries & Exits Change, Rank Last Year

1 Waterloo 94,045,510 91,750,382 3% 1

2 Victoria 76,231,290 73,573,492 4% 2

3 Liverpool Street 57,106,502 55,769,423 2% 3

4 London Bridge 52,634,024 51,478,131 2% 4

5 Charing Cross 38,004,790 37,222,298 2% 5

6 Euston 36,608,546 34,073,413 7% 6

7 Paddington 33,736,546 32,200,316 5% 7

8 Birmingham New Street 31,213,842 24,686,632 26% 10

9 King's Cross 27,874,732 26,254,644 6% 8

10 Glasgow Central 26,639,418 24,950,987 7% 9

Passenger numbers by Train Operator

SFO 2010/11 Entries and Exits 2011/12 Entries and Exits Growth%

Arriva Trains Wales 53,647,288 54,922,157 2.38%

c2c 44,534,718 47,892,935 7.54%

Chiltern Railways 33,586,328 37,263,142 10.95%

East Coast 32,308,884 33,640,134 4.12%

East Midlands Trains 38,374,508 39,477,360 2.87%

First Capital Connect 120,066,730 127,797,013 6.44%

First Great Western 112,344,542 120,333,895 7.11%

First ScotRail 118,666,068 125,931,674 6.12%

First TransPennine Express 21,470,589 22,312,474 3.92%

Glasgow Prestwick Airport 432,334 337,157 -22.01%

London Midland Trains 68,070,475 76,734,826 12.73%

London Overground 51,563,890 81,225,817 57.52%

London Underground 25,882,993 29,783,388 15.07%

Merseyrail 75,519,049 72,117,351 -4.50%

National Express East Anglia/ Abellio Greater Anglia 149,781,128 161,492,736 7.82%

Network Rail 601,917,586 628,993,726 4.50%

Northern Rail 106,573,058 116,454,756 9.27%

South West Trains 253,096,633 266,313,383 5.22%

South West Trains (Island Line) 1,627,348 1,668,330 2.52%

Southeastern 175,640,492 180,240,042 2.62%

Southern 191,026,233 205,422,769 7.54%

Virgin Trains (West Coast) 37,382,672 38,518,511 3.04%

Many tickets give a passenger a choice of routes and therefore, interchanges. Popularity of interchanges will alter as train services are changed and even if a franchise changes hands. So unless the ticket has stringent route restrictions, the route actually taken by the customer is not recorded.

Timetable data capture

Railway systems use ticket sales data to allocate revenue between operators and this is based on the timetable where there is a choice of trains and operators. For any given timetable the system works out the possible routes between each origin and destination, and calculates the percentage of the passengers that are expected to choose each route based on the services in that timetable.

Eurostar Passenger numbers increase

Eurostar has issued a statement which reports a doubling of their operating profit and a small increase in passenger numbers in their 2012 financial year. They carried 9•9 million passengers in 2012, an increase of 2% from 2011, but their declared operating profit was £52•3m. on a reduced revenue of £799m, £4m less than 2011. Business travel stayed as 2011 but leisure journeys increased by 3%. Passenger growth from non-EU countries was 8% reflecting their marketing campaign outside of the EU during the year.

They said

Eurostar’s Chief Executive Nicolas Petrovic said that ‘the combination of the Olympic Games and the Jubilee showcased London as a prime travel destination’. He also said that their new Siemens trains are now being built in Germany and will be operational in 2015. The existing trains are being refurbished and will enter service next year.

Captital expenditure?

The ten new trains costing £700m will allow Eurostar to introduce regular direct services other European capitals as they will be pan-European rail certified. So services to Germany and Holland are likely expanding from the existing Paris and Brussels services.

New services have been and are about to be launched. A partnership with TGV Lyria has seen a weekly service between London and some of Switzerland's ski resorts and a summer service from London to Lyon and Provence begins this summer.

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