These graphs show the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) statistics for passenger growth in terms of number of passenger entries and exits at local stations from 2001 onwards.
Source: ORR passenger entries & exits – data collected each year to end-March, up to & including March 2022, published November 2022.
The year to March 2020 included the GWR December 2019 Bristol-London timetable uplift. From February 2020 there was uncertainty about COVID-19 transmission in public spaces. From mid-March 2020, the government advised that people should stay at home and avoid public transport. GWR introduced an emergency timetable from 23rd March 2020.
The year to March 2021 was impacted by national lockdowns, local lockdowns, tier systems and working from home recommendations. See here for a reminder of the timeline. GWR made various timetable changes throughout the year to increase the services from the emergency timetable, and also to cope with COVID-related staff shortages.
The year to March 2022 included the GWR December 2021 timetable uplift to half-hourly on the Severn Beach Line (as far as Avonmouth). The year was impacted by the tail end of Tier 4 restrictions – see here for detail. By July 2021 most legal limits on social contact were removed in England, and the final closed sectors of the economy re-opened. However, habits changed as a result of ‘stay local’ and ‘work from home’ recommendations, and this is reflected in the ridership statistics.
The large stations recovered well from 2021 to 2022 but still substantially down in passenger numbers from the year to March 2020, that being the last year (mostly) unaffected by COVID-19.
The decrease from year-end March 2020 to year-end March 2022 was on average 40%, which is a recovery from the 82% average decrease between year-end March 2020 and year-end March 2021.
The particular drop in commuting can be seen by the decrease in passengers at Filton Abbey Wood, Bristol Temple Meads and Bristol Parkway. Passenger numbers are recovering but revenue is recovering less quickly due to the reduction in peak-fare commuting.
|Large stations||2019/20||2020/21||2021/22||Change 20-21||Change 20-22|
|Filton Abbey Wood||976,150||115,624||384,584||-88%||-61%|
|Bristol Temple Meads||11,619,360||2,032,828||6,627,950||-83%||-43%|
For regional stations, the decrease from year-end March 2020 to year-end March 2022 was on average 33%, which is a recovery from the 77% average decrease between year-end March 2020 and year-end March 2021.
Bridgwater, Highbridge and Weston Milton showed the best recovery.
|Regional stations||2019/20||2020/21||2021/22||Change 20-21||Change 20-22|
|Cam & Dursley||225,792||42,818||131,894||-81%||-42%|
|Highbridge & Burnham||212,650||80,236||194,846||-62%||-8%|
|Nailsea & Backwell||519,574||85,382||298,332||-84%||-43%|
For local stations, the decrease from year-end March 2020 to year-end March 2022 was on average 37%, which is a recovery from the 73% average decrease between year-end March 2020 and year-end March 2021.
Only St Andrews Road increased passenger numbers between 2020 to 2022. The station serves an industrial and warehousing area at Avonmouth/Severnside, where many of the staff are key workers in food distribution.
|Local stations||2019/20||2020/21||2021/22||Change 20-21||Change 20-22|
|St Andrews Road||5,728||4,910||7,164||-14%||25%|
Severn Beach Line – long-term trends
For the Severn Beach Line, according to ticket sales data, passenger numbers doubled between 2008 and 2013 and then showed gradual growth up to 2017.
2018 was a year of transition with the blockade of the Filton Bank for four-tracking, but 2019 saw a resurgence in passenger numbers to crest the 1.4 MILLION ridership figure for the first time.
The statistics from the Severnside Community Rail Partnership (SCRP) Annual Progress Report, published Spring 2022, show that approximated ridership stayed similar from 2020 to 2021 numbering 703,746 in calendar year 2020 and 685,958 in calendar year 2021. This compares to the 2019 pre-COVID figure of 1,407,102.
FoSBR look forward to publication of the SCRP February 2023 report to show approximated ridership to end-December 2022.
FoSBR record delays and cancellations on the Severn Beach Line here.
ORR (Office of Rail Regulation) data based on ticket sales LENNON data, some journeys made on rover tickets or employee passes or substitute buses may not have been recorded. Uncollected fares are not included and are estimated at up to 15% of the journey totals. Figures taken from SCRP Progress Reports up to Spring 2023.
A general note on ORR data: ORR statistics are generated from ticket sales derived from LENNON, the rail industry’s ticketing and revenue system. However, LENNON does not attribute individual station figures correctly in a zonal fares system such as the Severn Beach Line. Also, a line such as the Severn Beach Line does not achieve 100% revenue collection so the data underscores the actual journeys made.