Waterloo dethrones Stratford as UK’s most used station but numbers still down from before Covid

London Waterloo on a busy day  (Network Rail )
London Waterloo on a busy day (Network Rail )

Waterloo is back on top as Britain’s most used railway station with last year’s number one, Stratford, falling to fifth - although numbers are still far below pre-pandemic usage.

The Office of Rail and Road released data on Thursday for usage from April 2021-March 2022 for entries and exits to all 2,570 UK stations and found total numbers are less than half of what they were two years ago (April 2019-March 2020).

London Waterloo had a 16-year streak as Britain’s most used, before being knocked off last year by Stratford - in what could now be seen as a pandemic blip.

Access to the South Bank, the city as well as connections to three Underground lines and trains west London and to the south and south east have earned Waterloo 41.4 million passenger exits and entries.

However, it is still some way off the 86.9 million entries and exits recorded last time it was top in 2020.

In the latest year, there were 24 stations in Great Britain with more than 10 million entries and exits. This is compared to just five stations the previous year and 43 stations two years ago.

Feras Alshaker, director of planning and performance at the Office of Rail and Road said: “It is heartening to see passengers return to travelling by rail following what was a difficult period for the industry during the pandemic.

“There’s still some way to go in order for station usage figures to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“Once again it is important to thank all those in the rail industry, who continue to work hard to help people travel safely and with confidence.”

Victoria is back up to second with 36.7 million, London Bridge is third at 33.3 million, with Liverpool Street fourth (32.1 million) and the dethroned Stratford fifth (28.1 million).

Paddington and Euston follow on at 23.8 million and 23 million respectively, while the first non London station is Birmingham New Street with 22.6 million at eighth. King’s Cross (20.4 million) and Manchester Piccadilly (19.5 million) round out the top ten, which is now without London stations Highbury and Islington, Clapham Junction, Barking, and East Croydon.

Glasgow Central and Cardiff Central were the two most used in Scotland and Wales with 15.3 million and 7.5 million uses respectively.

Heathrow Terminal 4 was closed for the period and underlined the list on a technicality, which made Nottingham station Elton & Orston the UK’s least used in practice with 40 entries and exits.