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Essex: Rail passenger numbers fall across north of the county

05:59 28 February 2014

Passengers are switching from Colchester

Passengers are switching from Colchester's main line to its other stations.

The number of passengers using rail stations in north Essex fell last year, according to new figures from the government’s official regulator.

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The Office of Rail Regulation publishes figures for the number of users of every station in the country – and overall the number of passengers using stations in Great Britain increased by 3.3% in 2012/13 compared with the previous year.

In north Essex, however, the figure was not so clear. Manningtree saw an 11% increase, breaking the million passenger barrier.

However the number of passengers using Harwich Town, Clacton, and Walton-on-the-Naze stations fell.

At Colchester North main station, the number of passengers fell by 6%, although this was almost completely offset by a 60% rise in the number of passengers using the smaller Colchester Town and Hythe stations.

There were small falls in the number of passengers using Kelvedon and Witham although the numbers from Marks Tey increased slightly and there was a significant increase in the number of passengers from Chelmsford, the busiest station in the county.

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell was heartened to hear that the smaller stations in his constituency were attracting more passengers – easing the pressure on the main station.

He was speaking from a train heading to Colchester Town: “There has been investment in Hythe station alongside the development in that area, and also a big push to attract passengers to Colchester Town – or St Botolphs as us old timers still call it.

“That’s excellent news because the roads around the main station are getting very difficult and with more development to the north of the town are likely to continue to be very busy so if passengers can be persuaded to use other stations nearer their homes that is much better all round.”

A spokesman for Greater Anglia said overall the number of people using stations across the region had increased by about 6% between 2012 and 2013. The reason for individual variations was not always clear.

He added: “These latest station usage estimates published by the Office of Rail Regulation reflect the continued growth in rail travel in the region.

“The introduction of additional services including the increased frequency on the East Suffolk line, and work with our partners on the development of initiatives such as the Station Travel Plan for Colchester, are helping to support this positive trend.

“We will continue to work with our rail industry partners and key stakeholders in developing the case for further improvements to train services in the region.”

London Liverpool Street station retained its position as the third busiest station in the country, behind Waterloo and Victoria, and saw its passenger numbers increase by 2.4% to 58.5 million. The busiest station in East Anglia is Cambridge, which saw its passenger numbers increase by 3.9% to 9.1 million.

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