Passenger numbers plummet in pandemic but Doncaster still among country's busiest stations
Rail passengers have plummeted across Britain during the Covid pandemic – but Doncaster is still one of Yorkshire and the UK’s busiest stations.
The number of people using trains saw the lowest level of journeys by rail since 1872 – with lockdowns and people working from home during the Covid crisis responsible for a sharp drop across the network.
New figures show that less than one million people used Doncaster station in the last 12 months – in previous years, nearly four million people have used the station.
Leeds railway station remained the most used station across Yorkshire during a year that saw Britain’s passenger usage drop 78% compared to the previous year.
The numbers are revealed in the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) estimates of station usage statistics 2020-21, which include the annual total of passenger entries and exits at each of the 2,500+ stations in Great Britain.
Leeds had 5.8 million passenger entries and exits between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021 – underlying its importance as a key interchange and destination for the British public during the pandemic – despite an 81% decrease in passenger numbers compared to 2019-20.
The top five most-used stations across the region remained the same as the previous year.
Sheffield recorded 1.9 million entries and exits, York had 1.8 million while Huddersfield and Doncaster had 1 million and 890,238 respectively.
ORR’s stats reveal Stratford railway station in London as the most used station in Britain, recording nearly 14 million entries and exits in 2020-21 (13,985,162).
It is the first time in 17 years that London Waterloo is not the most used station. The London station saw the biggest decrease in passenger usage, with 12.21 million entries and exits compared to the 86 million in 2019-20.
Across Scotland, Glasgow Central remained the most used station with 5.3 million entries and exits, down from 32.5 million in 2019-20. Edinburgh (2.9m), Glasgow Queen Street (2.3m), Paisley Gilmour Street (982,530) and new entrant Partick (634,162) were also in the top 5 most used.
In Wales, Cardiff Central also remained the busiest station during 2020-21 but saw just under 2 million entries and exits compared to more than 12 million last year. Newport in South Wales (543,356), Cardiff Queen Street (472,914), Swansea (468,824) and Bridgend (321,576) completed the top 5 most used.
Only five railway stations in Great Britain had more than 10 million entries and exits in 2020-21 compared with 43 stations in 2019-20.
Nearly 200 railway stations across Britain had fewer than 1,000 entries and exits, with six recording no entries or exits during the last year as a result of services temporarily suspended at the majority of these stations due to the pandemic.
There were 18 stations with less than 20 and 59 with less than 100 recorded entries in 2020-21.
Last year’s least used station was Berney Arms (Norfolk, England) with 42 entries and exits. In 2020-21, 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
“Leeds has consistently appeared as one of the most used stations outside of London and it is clear it remained a key destination for many passengers through the pandemic.
“We have seen hundreds of 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, and there is a slower increase in commuter journeys.”