Here’s a tool which shows you which stations you can reach on direct trains from every station in Great Britain

The Duchess of Cambridge meets Paddington bear. Image: Getty.

Have you ever wanted to know exactly which other stations you can reach on a direct train from Basingstoke? Go on, own up, you have, haven’t you?

Well, Tom Forth – thinker, data-wrangler, professional northerner, and author of some of the most interesting articles we’ve ever run on CityMetric – Is here for you. Earlier this week, he tweeted this:

And reader, he did not resist. He instead used publicly available timetable data to build a “reachable stations” tool, which allows you to click on any station in Great Britain, and instantly see where you can go without changing.

And if you’re in Basingstoke, you’ll be pleased to hear, you have options:

But you have more options if you’re starting at Birmingham New Street:

Here’s Liverpool Lime Street:

Other places, such as Hull, are served by a narrower range of trains, presumably because they’re a) smaller and b) a bit out of the way:

You can also use the tool to see the difference in service patterns from cities’ different stations. Compare Manchester Piccadilly, from which trains run all over the country:

...to Manchester Victoria, from which they mainly serve the north:

Honestly, I could keep doing this for hours. Probably will, too.

The tool isn’t perfect. It doesn’t label the stations – you have to zoom in on the map to work out what you’re looking at (when I clicked Basingstoke, I genuinely thought it was Reading). And sometimes the data is formatted unhelpfully in the databases from which Tom is drawing – there are currently two London Bridges for some reason:

But it’s still a fascinating tool, if you’re a rail nerd which obviously you are, so go have a play.


Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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As EU funding is lost, “levelling up” needs investment, not just rhetoric

Oh, well. Image: Getty.

Regional inequality was the foundation of Boris Johnson’s election victory and has since become one of the main focuses of his government. However, the enthusiasm of ministers championing the “levelling up” agenda rings hollow when compared with their inertia in preparing a UK replacement for European structural funding. 

Local government, already bearing the brunt of severe funding cuts, relies on European funding to support projects that boost growth in struggling local economies and help people build skills and find secure work. Now that the UK has withdrawn its EU membership, councils’ concerns over how EU funds will be replaced from 2021 are becoming more pronounced.

Johnson’s government has committed to create a domestic structural funding programme, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), to replace the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF). However, other than pledging that UKSPF will “reduce inequalities between communities”, it has offered few details on how funds will be allocated. A public consultation on UKSPF promised by May’s government in 2018 has yet to materialise.

The government’s continued silence on UKSPF is generating a growing sense of unease among councils, especially after the failure of successive governments to prioritise investment in regional development. Indeed, inequalities within the UK have been allowed to grow so much that the UK’s poorest region by EU standards (West Wales & the Valleys) has a GDP of 68 per cent of the average EU GDP, while the UK’s richest region (Inner London) has a GDP of 614 per cent of the EU average – an intra-national disparity that is unique in Europe. If the UK had remained a member of the EU, its number of ‘less developed’ regions in need of most structural funding support would have increased from two to five in 2021-27: South Yorkshire, Tees Valley & Durham and Lincolnshire joining Cornwall & Isles of Scilly and West Wales & the Valley. Ministers have not given guarantees that any region, whether ‘less developed’ or otherwise, will obtain the same amount of funding under UKSPF to which they would have been entitled under ESIF.


The government is reportedly contemplating changing the Treasury’s fiscal rules so public spending favours programmes that reduce regional inequalities as well as provide value for money, but this alone will not rebalance the economy. A shared prosperity fund like UKSPF has the potential to be the master key that unlocks inclusive growth throughout the country, particularly if it involves less bureaucracy than ESIF and aligns funding more effectively with the priorities of local people. 

In NLGN’s Community Commissioning report, we recommended that this funding should be devolved to communities directly to decide local priorities for the investment. By enabling community ownership of design and administration, the UK government would create an innovative domestic structural funding scheme that promotes inclusion in its process as well as its outcomes.

NLGN’s latest report, Cultivating Local Inclusive Growth: In Practice, highlights the range of policy levers and resources that councils can use to promote inclusive growth in their area. It demonstrates that, through collaboration with communities and cross-sector partners, councils are already doing sterling work to enhance economic and social inclusion. Their efforts could be further enhanced with a fund that learns lessons from ESIF’s successes and flaws: a UKSPF that is easier to access, designed and delivered by local communities, properly funded, and specifically targeted at promoting social and economic inclusion in regions that need it most. “Getting Brexit done” was meant to free up the government’s time to focus once more on pressing domestic priorities. “Getting inclusive growth done” should be at the top of any new to-do list.

Charlotte Morgan is senior researcher at the New Local Government Network.