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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Tackling toxic air in our cities is also a matter of social justice

Oh, lovely. Image: Getty.

Clean Air Zones are often dismissed by critics as socially unfair. The thinking goes that charging older and more polluting private cars will disproportionately impact lower income households who cannot afford expensive cleaner alternatives such as electric vehicles.

But this argument doesn’t consider who is most affected by polluted air. When comparing the latest deprivation data to nitrogen dioxide background concentration data, the relationship is clear: the most polluted areas are also disproportionately poorer.

In UK cities, 16 per cent of people living in the most polluted areas also live in one of the top 10 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods, against 2 per cent who live in the least deprived areas.

The graph below shows the average background concentration of NO2 compared against neighbourhoods ranked by deprivation. For all English cities in aggregate, pollution levels rise as neighbourhoods become more deprived (although interestingly this pattern doesn’t hold for more rural areas).

Average NO2 concentration and deprivation levels. Source: IMD, MHCLG (2019); background mapping for local authorities, Defra (2019).

The graph also shows the cities in which the gap in pollution concentration between the most and the least deprived areas is the highest, which includes some of the UK’s largest urban areas.  In Sheffield, Leeds and Birmingham, there is a respective 46, 42 and 33 per cent difference in NO2 concentration between the poorest and the wealthiest areas – almost double the national urban average gap, at around 26 per cent.

One possible explanation for these inequalities in exposure to toxic air is that low-income people are more likely to live near busy roads. Our data on roadside pollution suggests that, in London, 50 per cent of roads located in the most deprived areas are above legal limits, against 4 per cent in the least deprived. In a number of large cities (Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield), none of the roads located in the least deprived areas are estimated to be breaching legal limits.

This has a knock-on impact on health. Poor quality air is known to cause health issues such as cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and asthma. Given the particularly poor quality of air in deprived areas, this is likely to contribute to the gap in health and life expectancy inequalities as well as economic ones between neighbourhoods.


The financial impact of policies such as clean air zones on poorer people is a valid concern. But it is not a justifiable reason for inaction. Mitigating policies such as scrappage schemes, which have been put in place in London, can deal with the former concern while still targeting an issue that disproportionately affects the poor.

As the Centre for Cities’ Cities Outlook report showed, people are dying across the country as a result of the air that they breathe. Clean air zones are one of a number of policies that cities can use to help reduce this, with benefits for their poorer residents in particular.

Valentine Quinio is a researcher at the Centre for Cities, on whose blog this post first appeared.