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Rail Regulation figures show how many people use the Tarka Line's railway stations

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: May 16, 2013

By Will Topps

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NEW figures from the Office of Rail Regulation show how few people use some of the Tarka Line's stations, but also how usage appears to be on the increase.

The figures show how many people use every railway station in the UK and how those numbers have changed in the last year.

The figures are based on ticket sales and show entries (when someone gets on a train) and exits (when they get off).

As expected the data reveals Barnstaple railway station is the busiest in the area with 372,148 entries and exits in 2011-12, a rise of 9 per cent, or around 30,000, on the previous year.

That increase is matched at other stations on the Tarka Line, with the next busiest station, Eggesford, showing an increase of 6 per cent. It had 26,906 entries and exits last year, pipping Umberleigh to the title of second busiest station in North Devon.

Rail use at Umberleigh increased by 20 per cent, with 23,786 passengers getting on and off trains at the station.

King's Nympton station saw a 17 per cent rise in usage to 3,008 entries and exits while there was no change at Chapelton, where 190 people got on and off a train.

Exactly the same number of entries and exits were made at the station in 2010-11.

But the upward trend was not seen at Lapford, where 2,062 people got on and off trains, a fall of 13 per cent on the previous year.

At Portsmouth Arms there was a six per cent fall, from 936 to 884.

John Gulliver, from the North Devon Public Transport Users Group, said the figures are good news.

"The figures show how few people use some of the Tarka line's stations, but also show how overall usage is increasing," he said.

"The latter reflects a welcome trend which has been apparent on all the branch lines in Devon and Cornwall for several years now, and indeed on many others elsewhere in the country.

"Barnstaple is far and away the busiest of the 12 stations on the line. It accounts for 72 per cent of the line's traffic.

"Since the population the line serves is overwhelmingly in the northern part of the county, we shouldn't be surprised at this.

"The real question is why doesn't Barnstaple attract even more passengers than it does now?"

The figures also show North Devon is not the quietest area when it comes to rail use.

The 190 entries and exits at Chapelton would represent a massive increase to staff at Tees-Side Airport railway station, where just 14 people alighted or embarked on a train in an entire year.

Just 16 people used Dorking West railway station in Surrey over the same period, while closer to home, just 136 got on and off trains at Sampford Courtenay.

The figures also revealed how Waterloo is the UK's busiest station, with 94,045,510 entries and exits in 2011-12, while Victoria station saw 76,231,290 entries and exits.

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