Nearly 7,000 more trips on Bentham Line over past year shows recovery after Covid pandemic

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Members of The Bentham Line (Leeds-Morecambe Community Rail Partnership) have noted continued increases in passenger numbers along the railway in the last year.

This is based on the most recent set of ‘footfall figures’, (the number of journeys to and from a particular station), which have been published by the Office of Road and Rail for the 2022-23 financial year.

Gerald Townson, chairman of the LMCRP said; “Comparing the latest figures with those from previous years, highlights some contrasting situations.

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“Our analysis shows that there has been further positive recovery throughout the route in 2022-23, since the return of passengers to the Bentham Line during 2021-22, after covid restrictions were lifted.

Train departure from Bentham for Morecambe. Picture by Gerald Townson.Train departure from Bentham for Morecambe. Picture by Gerald Townson.
Train departure from Bentham for Morecambe. Picture by Gerald Townson.

“The percentage changes, from one year to the next show that it is our most rural stations; Wennington, Bentham, Clapham, Giggleswick, Long Preston and Gargrave, which have recovered better than the larger towns and cities at both ends of the line.

“It is also the rural stations which have led the way by exceeding the earlier footfall figures from 2019-20, prior to the pandemic.”

Bentham has gone well beyond its best figure pre-Covid of 29,932 journeys annually and reached the dizzy heights of 36,416 trips, some 22% above pre-Covid numbers.

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Unfortunately, many commuting journeys have clearly been lost at both ends of the line as people continue to work from home or go into their offices on fewer days.

Weekends and school holidays have become the busiest days, as leisure travel has seen a clear increase with more groups and families travelling together.

There are many university students travelling in both directions between Leeds and Lancaster and school pupils make good use of the services around Lancaster and Skipton, in particular.

Rod Tickner, who is particularly involved with the CRP’s work on dementia said: “We look forward to the passenger numbers continuing to grow, as people seek to travel in a more

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environmentally-friendly manner. We are also continuing our trips, tailored for those living with dementia, to the coast and countryside.

“The scenic qualities of the route make the train travel part of a great day out for for them and their carers.”

Benthamers remain the most frequent travellers within the rural part of the line with their most popular destination being Lancaster, (over 37% of journeys).

Lancaster is also the most popular destination from Heysham Port (32%), Morecambe (39%), Bare Lane (80%) and Carnforth (42%). Lancaster folk favour Preston, whilst Giggleswick residents favour Skipton.

The most popular destination from Leeds is London King’s Cross.

All other stations favour Leeds as a destination.