There are some railways in the UK that are simply not being used. While some get millions of passengers every year, others are getting less than 20. This information was brought to light by a new study done by the Office of Rail Regulation.
The worst case of this was seen at Teesside Airport station in Darlington. This station only received 14 passengers during the 2011-12 year. Of course, to say that Teesside Airport station is the only mainline in the UK like this would be an understatement. It might be the worst, but other stations like Dorking West in Surrey only had 16 passengers. On top of that, Denton in Greater Manchester only brought in 30 passengers during that whole year.
Despite these reports, some people have reason to doubt these numbers. Passenger groups and even the companies running these services say the figures are not correct. They said, these estimates are based only on the number of station entrances and exists during a 12-month span ending March 2012. Just because passengers did not buy their tickets at these stations does not mean that they do not pass through these stations every day.
The Department for Transport and First Great Western said that these figures are very misleading. These two groups pointed out that passengers are not always getting off or on at these stations but may be passing through it. If they are not buying their tickets in these stations, that would explain the extremely low numbers.
A spokesperson for First Great Western, James Davis, said that this report from the Office of Rail Regulations is extremely abnormal in the way it was conducted. It does not, in any way, reflect the actually number of people who are using these stations during the course of the year.
Take the statistics that were released by Dorking West. These figures show that almost every consumer who buys their train tickets buys them from other stations. This would make it look like, on paper, that no one is using these mainlines. Really, tons of people are using these mainlines every day.
Either way, no one has to worry about Denton West or any of these other stations closing down anytime soon. Northern Rail, which is the operator who runs the Denton service, said that they are actually legally obligated to keep a train running to this station. So even if no one was on the train, it would still have to be run.
A spokesman for the Department of Transport said that many operators are legally responsible for keeping trains moving on all mainlines. This is part of their rail franchise agreement. To keep that line open, they have to keep services running on it. In some cases, these operators only have to run one train a week for that service. The services that run without anyone on board are known by many as ghost trains. Although they are running without anyone on them, they do serve a big purpose for each rail company. It is also a good way to keep the rails in good working order.