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.