Updated: Feb 10, 2021
(Kemble Train Station)
Cotswold’s railway stations got busier with more journeys made last year, bolstering hopes passengers will return after the Covid-19 pandemic. Pressure group Railfuture said the impact of current travel restrictions is causing a “temporary blip” in the continued growth in railway usage nationally. Office of Road and Rail data shows an estimated 702,000 passengers using Cotswold's two stations in 2019-20. That's 40,898 more than the previous year, a rise of 6.2%. The busiest station was Kemble with 409,000 entries and exits by passengers, followed by Moreton-In-Marsh, 293,000.
Across the South West, usage of railway stations increased by 343,000 to 78.7 million in 2019-20, while across Britain it fell 1.1 per cent to 3 billion. The ORR has put the national reduction in journeys down to a “dramatic drop” in passengers in March due to Covid-19 restrictions, with lockdown introduced on March 23.
But Railfuture, an independent organisation with 20,000 members, is hopeful the railway system will recover. Bruce Williamson, a spokesman for the group, said: “I am very confident that the railways will bounce back when Covid-19 is over. We can’t ignore the fact the world has changed and people working from home may stay put – but I still feel for the most part, things will return to normal. Considering the underlying trend of increased rail usage over the past 30 years, we have to look at Covid-19 as a temporary blip.”
In Cotswold there were eight passenger journeys for every person living in the area in 2019-20 compared to the national rate of 75.
Jay Symonds, ORR senior statistical analyst, said: “The dramatic drop in passenger numbers towards the end of March due to Covid-19 explains much of the drop in usage compared to last year.” He added: “With numbers staying at historically low levels during 2020, there is no doubt that next year will look a lot different.”