Passenger trends 2001 to 2021, showing impact of Covid-19 on rail usage

Covid-19 impact on local rail usage

The latest data from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) shows that passenger rail usage in 2020-21 (1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021) was significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nationally, rail passenger journeys decreased 78% on the previous year.  Media coverage focused on the fact that this was the lowest level of journeys since at least before 1872.

The year to March 2021 was strewn with national lockdowns, local lockdowns, tier systems and working from home recommendations – see here for a reminder of the timeline.

Locally, passenger numbers largely followed the national trend. For full statistics see our “Passenger Growth” page.

The larger commuter stations were hard-hit, with leisure use mitigating the impact at some destinations:

Station20202021Change
Bath Spa6,432,8121,198,504-81%
Bristol Parkway2,371,812366,904-85%
Bristol Temple Meads11,619,3602,032,828-83%
Filton Abbey Wood976,150115,624-88%
Weston-s-Mare1,159,564306,684-74%
Table 1 – Rail usage in 2021 compared with 2020, main local stations

Some other stations in the region:

Station20202021Change
Bridgwater363,828133,410-63%
Nailsea & Backwell519,57485,382-84%
Parson Street173,83229,702-83%
Patchway91,15812,392-86%
Table 2 – Rail usage in 2021 compared with 2020, other stations in our region

The Severn Beach Line stations fared relatively well with an average passenger decline of only 71%, for example:

Station20202021Change
Avonmouth127,14246,076-64%
Clifton Down727,774168,394-77%
Montpelier129,55642,438-67%
Severn Beach301,15498,726-67%
St Andrews Road5,7284,910-14%
Table 3 – Rail usage in 2021 compared with 2020, main local stations

St Andrews Road came amongst the top ten least “passenger-losing” stations in the country with its decline of only 14%, which merited a footnote from the ORR.  The station serves an industrial and warehousing area at Avonmouth/ Severnside, where many of the staff are key workers in food distribution.

GWR have said that the ability to demonstrate good progress in customers returning locally in 2021 has enabled them to proceed with the December 2021 half-hourly Severn Beach Line service upgrade.  For timetables, go to GWR travel information and scroll down to timetable “B9” for Severn Beach services.

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