They are platforms without a purpose; stations where you won’t see a soul. While many commuters are forced to shove their way on to overcrowded trains during the rush-hour, there are some stations that serve just a handful of passengers a month.
Teesside Airport Station in Darlington is the UK’s most-deserted stop, attracting just 14 passengers last year and only 18 the year before that, according to figures released by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR).
The station, on the Darlington to Middlesbrough line, is a 15-minute walk from Durham Tees Valley Airport. The low passenger figures are perhaps unsurprising, given that it is served by just one “ghost” train a week. Such occasional “zombie” services allow train operators to mothball lines without the consultation required for a formal closure.
Dorking West in Surrey could boast only 16 passengers in 2011-12 and just 22 in 2010-11, the ORR figures showed. It has regular services to and from London but its user statistics suggest that nearly everyone prefers to travel from the Surrey town’s two other stations – Dorking and Dorking Deepdene.
The third-least-busy station in 2011-12, with just 30 passengers, was Denton in Greater Manchester, which is served only on Friday mornings by a one-way service between Stockport and Stalybridge. A testimony to its relative popularity among the nation’s unloved and unvisited stations is the active Friends of Denton Station campaign, which hopes to increase the frequency of trains passing through.
The group’s chairman, Alan Jones, has even taken to the internet to tell passengers of the good times they might expect.
Speaking about the station, Mr Jones, 77, said the ORR figures were “ridiculous” and added that the number of people using Denton had increased since the data was collected. “I’m sure that if there were more trains people would use them,” he said. “The station is at the junction of the M67 and the M60. The traffic on the roads during rush-hour is horrendous. This is a valued service and we are trying to get a regular service.”
Northern Rail said the station, which could boast of a whopping 52 passengers in 2010-11, was being kept open only as part of the company’s franchise. A spokeswoman said: “Although passenger numbers are low, we continue to work closely with the Friends of Denton and the South East Manchester Community Rail Partnership on a local level.”
She added that Northern Rail was looking to industry partners, including the Department for Transport, to “specify a higher level of service to the station” and contribute towards funding.
The rail usage figures are based on the numbers of people entering and leaving stations and are compiled by the transport consultancy Steer Davies and Gleave.
Denton, Manchester 30 passengers last year.
Dorking West, Surrey 16 passengers last year.
Teesside Airport, Darlington 14 passengers last year.