Occasionally it seems worth posting something with very little comment, and this is one of those situations. In short, the Campaign for Better Transport have released an interactive look at rail usage in the UK. It is based on ORR numbers – the accuracy of which questions have occasionally been asked – but provides a interesting look at general trends in behaviour as much as anything else.
First, passenger rail travel is up enormously. In 2014/15, an estimated 2.75bn entries and exists were recorded across the rail network – 1.45 billion more than in 1997/98 (the first year comparable data was collected). There are now 686 stations which attract over 1m entries and exits each year compared with just 215 in 1997/98. Last year 85 stations attracted over 5m journeys – more than four times the number as 1997/98.
Second, the relationship between rail and London is very clear. The map shows scores of ever busier stations in Greater London itself and the snaking tentacles of commuter lines stretching away from the capital. While you might expect to see larger stations like St Albans and Cambridge have growth of well over 100 per cent, in percentage terms this is matched or exceeded by strings of stations like those running through Hertfordshire to London Kings Cross, where Baldock, Letchworth, Hitchin, Welwyn Garden City have all seen passenger number double since 1997. The Government is facilitating this trend with big investments like Crossrail and potentially Crossrail 2. But with fares high and overcrowding a significant problem, efforts to spread the morning peak and improve affordability are of increasing urgency.
We look forward to reading your comments.