In the year 2020-2021, Stratford in east London was Britain’s busiest railway station.
Overall, 78% fewer passengers travelled on Britain’s railways compared with the previous year. This was because of the pandemic and was the lowest number of journeys since at least before 1872.
The figures are revealed in the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) estimates of station usage statistics 2020-21. They include the annual total of passenger entries and exits at each of the 2,500+ stations in Great Britain.
Stratford recorded nearly 14 million entries and exits (13,985,162) in 2020-21, demonstrating its importance as a key interchange with other transport routes.
This is the first time in 17 years that London Waterloo is not the most used station in Britain.
Instead, it had the largest decrease in passenger usage, with 12.2 million entries and exits compared to the 86.9 million in 2019-20.
The top five stations are all in London: Stratford, Victoria with 13.8 million entries and exits, followed by London Bridge also with 13.8 million, Liverpool Street with 11.2 million, and Highbury and Islington with 8.7 million.
Three more London stations are in the top ten: Clapham Junction with 8.4 million, Barking 6.7 million, and East Croydon 6.7 million.
Stations ousted from the top ten were Paddington, Euston, St Pancras International, and King’s Cross.
The only station outside London that recorded more than 6 million entries and exits was Birmingham New Street, with 7.4 million people travelling from or to the station.
Outside London, the only changes from last year were the inclusion of Liverpool Lime Street with 3.5 million and Cambridge with 2.3 million; they replaced Gatwick Airport and Glasgow Queen Street.
In Scotland, Glasgow Central remained the most used station with 5.3 million entries and exits, down from 32.5 million in 2019-20. That was followed by Edinburgh Waverley with 2.9 million, Glasgow Queen Street with 2.3 million, Paisley Gilmour Street with 982,530, and new entrant Partick with 634,162.
Wales’ busiest station was Cardiff Central with just under 2 million entries and exits, down from more than 12 million last year. Other stations in the top five most used were Newport in South Wales (543,356), Cardiff Queen Street (472,914), Swansea (468,824), and Bridgend (321,576).
In 2020-21 only five railway stations in Great Britain had more than 10 million entries and exits, compared with 43 stations the year before.
Nearly 200 railway stations across Britain had less than 1,000 entries and exits, 59 had less than 100 recorded entries, and 18 stations had less than 20. Six stations recorded no entries or exits during the last year, but that was because services at the majority of these stations were temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.
Last year’s least used station was Berney Arms in Norfolk, with 42 entries and exits. This year the number of entries and exits at this station increased to 348, which was the biggest percentage increase of any station compared with the previous year.
Feras Alshaker, Director of Planning and Performance at the Office of Rail and Road said: “Throughout 2020-21 the railways remained an essential service for those people who needed to travel during a year which was impacted by the pandemic.
“We’ve seen a radical change, especially in London, in the stations people were using the most. Stratford, Highbury and Islington, Clapham Junction, Barking, and East Croydon replaced Kings Cross, St. Pancras, Euston, and Paddington in the top ten, underlining their importance as vital stops and interchanges, linking key workers with underground and bus services to travel.
“This year we have seen many railway stations with very few passenger entries and exits. However, we know that recent figures show leisure journeys are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, while there has been a slower increase in commuter journeys.”