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November 26, 2021updated 06 Jan 2022 5:50am

ORR stats show slower increase in London commuter journeys

London has experienced a slower return to pre-pandemic rail passenger levels for commuter journeys despite leisure journeys returning to almost normal levels, according to Office of Rail and Road statistics.

By Jasleen Mann

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) measured the annual total of passenger entries and exits at more than 2,500 stations in Britain. It found rail passenger traffic fell by 78% due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with the 12 months to March 2021 recording the lowest level of rail journeys taking place since 1872.

At 14 million, London’s Stratford station experienced the most passenger entries and exits during that year, as it connects passengers with other transport routes.

Prior to this, London Waterloo had been the busiest station for 17 years but during the pandemic recorded just 12.2 million entries and exits compared with 86.9 million the year before.

Just five railway stations recorded more than 10 million entries and exits in 2020-21 compared with 43 stations in 2019-20.

The suspension of services resulted in six stations recording no entries or exits last year while 18 stations recorded fewer than 20 and 59 stations recorded fewer than 100.

ORR director of planning and performance Feras Alshaker 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.”

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