Cardiff Central railway station remained the most used station across Wales during a year that saw Britain’s passenger usage drop 78% compared to the previous year. This was the lowest level of journeys seen since at least before 1872 and is a result of the pandemic.
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.
Cardiff Central remained the busiest station with just under 2 million entries and exits, down from 12.7 million in 2019 – an 84% decrease.
Newport in South Wales was second on the list with just over half a million visits (543,356).
Cardiff Queen Street (472,914), Swansea (468,824) and Bridgend (321,576) completed an unchanged top 5 most used stations across Wales despite the drop in entries and exits.
The impact of the pandemic is seen throughout ORR’s statistics with 51 railway stations in Wales recording fewer than 1,000 entries and exits in 2020-21.
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 being temporarily suspended at the majority of these stations due to the pandemic.
Four of these were in Wales – Abererch (Gwynedd), Llanbedr (Gwynedd), and Sugar Loaf (Powys), which all had no entries and exits in 2020-21. These stations typically have very low passenger usage.
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 86.9 million in 2019-20.
In 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.
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 pandemic.
“Cardiff Central 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.
“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.”