Which parts of Great Britain are furthest from a train station?

A station, of the sort you won't find in much of the Highlands or West Wales. Image: Getty.

In my ongoing quest to answer the burning questions of our times, I decided to use some data-based boffinry to expxlore some issues I sometimes think of when zipping up and down the country on the train. I'm sure I can't be the only one, so here are some results that I've had saved up for a while.

The first question is, “Which parts of Great Britain are furthest from a train station?” The second is, “How many train stations are there in each local authority or parliamentary constituency?” Yes, I know I need to get out more – but if you're reading this you probably do too, so take a look at the first two maps below.

Not exactly earth shattering, but some interesting snippets.

You can click on this to see a bit more detail.

Not entirely unexpected patterns here, really. I did this in part to use as teaching material in the future (it uses a basic GIS operation), and I set the boundary at 30km just because it produces an interesting result.

You can see the area around Bude in North Cornwall is England's largest area without a station. This issue has been raised in parliament many times, including in 2014 by the previous MP for the area.

The furthest areas from stations are all in the mostly sparsely populated north and west Highlands, but also in and about the Cairngorms and the Borders – though the latter has just got a lot smaller thanks to the re-opening of the Borders Railway. West Wales and a bit of North Wales also fall off the map. Lastly, there’s a tiny sliver of land in Yorkshire that sits just outside this 30km buffer distance.

Some zoomed in maps follow:

This is just on the Scotland-England border.

Around Bude in North Cornwall (and a bit on Exmoor).

A zoomed in map of train station deserts in the Highlands.

The Norfolk train-free zones.

The West Wales no-rail-zone.

Looking for trains in the Yorkshire Dales? Avoid this bit.

Okay, so having answered one burning question, let's briefly turn to the other. How many areas in Great Britain (and I'm just referring to the island of Great Britain) do not have a station?

For Local Authorities, I make it 12 out of 376 and for Westminster Constituencies, I make it 49 out of 630. I've screenshotted the two files here but you can also explore them yourself in Google Drive

Many stations in the largest areas, obviously.

 

Same as above – e.g. Highland coves a larger area than Wales.

What should we conclude from this? Not much, but It's quite interesting to look at the local authorities or constituencies that do not have a train station – of which there are 2,557 listed in the Office of Rail and Road 2015-16 data that I used for this.

The next two maps show where there are no stations - but there are possibly a couple of small inaccuracies (Kensington & Chelsea being one, as three national rail stations are right on the border there).

This is very interesting.

If you've read this far, you should get out more.

Okay, so that's about it. Some data notes below if anyone is interested. Also, the spreadsheets in the Google Drive folder have passenger entry and exit data – that is, the headline 'passengers' figures that are used to identify the busiest stations (e.g. Waterloo with nearly 100m in 2015-16). I have also added in average, max, min and sum figures on passengers for the aggregated local authority and parliamentary constituency numbers. Hours of fun.


Some notes on the data: Follow this link to get the 2015-16 data on stations that I used here – including the eastings and northings for station locations.

I got the boundaries from the excellent ONS Geography Portal and they are, of course Crown Copyright (but also open data) – as in, Contains OS data © Crown copyright and database right (2017).

The data are compiled by Steer Davies Gleave on behalf of the Office of Rail and Road and they are accompanied by this interesting two page summary. In addition to the two spreadsheets, I have also uploaded the images in this post to the Google Drive folder.

Train station vs railway station? I'm not bothered about this, or with data is/data are.

Dr Alasdair Rae is a senior lecturer in the urban studies & planning department of the University of Sheffield. This article was originally posted on his blog, and is reposted here with the author's permission.

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The best way to make housing more affordable? Raise interest rates

Lol, no. Image: Getty.

Speaking to the Conservative Party conference in September 2017, the UK prime minister, Theresa May, gave a stark assessment of the UK housing market which made for depressing listening for many young people: “For many the chance of getting onto the housing ladder has become a distant dream”, she said.

Now a new report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) provides further, clear evidence of this. The study finds that home ownership among 25 to 34-year-olds has declined sharply over the past 20 years. Home ownership rates have declined from 43 per cent at age 27 for someone born in the late 1970s, to just 25 per cent for someone aged 27 who was born in the late 1980s.

The most significant decline has been for middle-income young people, whose rate of home ownership has fallen from 65 per cent in 1995-6 to 27 per cent now – most significantly hitting aspirant buyers in London and the South-East.

Causes and consequences

The IFS study lays the blame for all this on the growing gap between house prices and incomes. Adjusting for inflation, house prices have risen 150 per cent in the 20 years to 2015-16, while real incomes for 25 to 34-year-olds have grown by 22 per cent (and almost all of that growth happened before the 2008 crash).

A bleak picture. Image: Institute for Fiscal Studies.

But, as the report acknowledges, the problem goes much deeper than this. Home ownership rates differ by region. Although there has been a decline in home ownership rates for young people across all areas of Great Britain, the decline is less significant in the North East and Cumbria as well as in Scotland and the South West. The biggest decline in ownership has been in the South-East, the North-West (excluding Cumbria) and London.

So a person aged 25 to 34 is more than twice as likely to own their own home in Cumbria, as their counterpart in London. Worse, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to own their own homes – even after controlling for differences in education and earnings. Home ownership continues to reflect a deeper inequality of opportunity in our society.


More houses needed

Part of the problem is that both Labour and Conservative governments have seen housing as a single, stand-alone market and have focused their attention on what is happening to prices in London. But housing is a number of different markets, which have regional variations and different interactions between the owner-occupier, private rented and social rented sectors.

Regional variations in house prices for similar sized properties reflect the imbalances of the economy: it is heavily reliant on financial services, which are concentrated in London, while the public sector makes up a significant share of many local economies – particularly in the North. Migration from across the UK to overcrowded and expensive areas – such as London and the South-East – have put property prices in those areas even further out of reach for would-be buyers.

To make matters worse, both Labour and Conservative governments have routinely failed to build enough houses. While the current government’s aim to build 300,000 new properties a year by 2020 is welcome, it is simply not enough to meet the backlog in demand – let alone address the fundamental affordability problem.

Where homes are being built, they’re often the wrong types of homes, in the wrong places. Family homes are being built, despite there being some 4m under-occupied such properties across the country.

Not that long ago, government was reducing the housing stock in many parts of the North, through the disastrous Housing Market Renewal programme. Houses are currently being sold in smaller cities such as Liverpool and Stoke-on-Trent for just £1. And none of the government’s actions suggest that ministers understand these issues, or are prepared to address them.

House price inflation – and the awful affect it is having on home ownership rates for young people – is part of a wider problem of the global asset bubble. This bubble has seen huge increases in the price of assets – stocks, housing, bonds – in high income countries such as the UK. Successive governments have helped to fuel this through quantitative easing, ultra-cheap money and successive raids on pension funds.

The ConversationWhat’s needed to address this asset bubble is a substantive increase in interest rates. But while this may slow the growth in house prices, the sad truth is it will do nothing to make housing more affordable for most young people.

Chris O'Leary, Deputy Director, Policy Evaluation and Research Unit and Senior Lecturer, Manchester Metropolitan University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.