Manchester train stations see surge of 2.5million extra passengers per year, as commuters ditch cars for rail

Exclusive by Reece Lawrence

A whopping 2.5million more passengers used Manchester’s railway stations in 2012 compared to the previous year – and experts are putting it down to soaring costs of owning a car.

New figures from the Office of Rail Regulation have revealed that more than 37million commuters used the main stations in Manchester between 2011 and 2012 – around the same amount London Euston handled.

The increase of more than 7% continues a trend of railway stations experiencing more traffic than ever, with almost 10% average increase each year since 2007.

The stations included in the figures – Manchester Piccadilly, Victoria, Oxford Road, and Deansgate – collectively fall short of other central stations in large metropolitan areas in terms of usage, notably Birmingham, which handled more than 42million passengers.

Russell Spink, National Media Relations Manager at Network Rail, said: “I would suggest the reasons for busier stations are a combination of increasing costs associated with driving and increased city-centre job opportunities.”

He said changing attitudes towards rail travel and housing development focused on commuter railway lines were also contributing.

Manchester Airport also fared well in terms of increasing figures, with a 14% jump in those using the train to get to and from it – a figure consistent with strong passenger growth at the airport itself.

With the modernisation of many of Britain’s large railway centres, the country is adapting to the needs of a higher population.

Manchester Piccadilly was renovated in 2002, while a new section of Birmingham’s New Street station was opened last month.

The demand for railway travel has put a strain on train services themselves.

Mr Spink said: “Certainly services are getting busier and in the morning and evening peak hours in particular there is significant overcrowding on some routes in and around Manchester.

“That’s why we’re investing hundreds of millions of pounds in improving the rail infrastructure in Manchester and across the north of England as part of the Northern Hub scheme.”

The Northern Hub scheme is a planned overhaul of Manchester’s train lines with improved transport links, which will be completed in 2019.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Manchester is one of our largest areas of growth and the Northern Hub project is designed to reduce congestion, increase capacity and encourage economic growth.”

Picture courtesy of Network Rail, with thanks.

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