Week 36: FMP-Analysing passengers’travel patterns

by wangtianchen

Following the research of last week, crowding is an issue at many of the termini with the capacity of public transport services unable to meet peaks in demand. Crowding on the Underground can lead to frustrating environment. The capacity of the National Rail network into London is growing, and without intervention the further growth in London’s population and employment will exacerbate crowding at stations and on modes used for onward travel. It is important that we improve our understanding of trips made into central London by rail and patterns of onward distribution. A survey of passengers at the central London termini was undertaken to collect information about their characteristics and travel choices. This new information will provide a useful resource in work to mitigate some of the current issues around onward travel, and will also to assist in planning for efficient distribution in light of the predicted growth in travel in central London.

Huge numbers of passengers pose unique challenges

Passenger flows at some of central London‟s rail termini dwarf those at London‟s Underground stations, with even the busiest Underground stations handling less than half the number of passengers using Waterloo rail terminus during the morning peak period. Peak time rail passenger flows at London Bridge, Liverpool Street and Victoria also greatly exceed Underground passenger flows from Bank, Canary Wharf and Oxford Circus. Moreover, as well as catering for these vast rail passenger flows, most termini also house an Underground station – which are in many cases among London‟s busiest stations in their own right.

The end of the line may not mean the end of the journey

The major radial rail routes into London funnel many thousands of passengers every hour from outlying areas to the 13 central London termini. But while these stations may be the end of the rail line, they are often not the end of the journey. This means that while some passengers are able to walk the last few minutes of their journey, thousands more depend on fast, reliable onward connections to reach their ultimate destination.

Making vital connections between employees and businesses

As well as handling a large proportion of commuter traffic into central London, central London‟s rail termini are often vitally important gateways for business travel between central London and the UK‟s most economically active areas, and many of the thousands of passengers travelling through them each day are travelling on business. The efficient onward distribution of this high value travel is therefore of significant importance for the economies of London and the UK as a whole.

Key findings

  • In total, just over a million people arrived at and departed from the central London termini over the weekday morning and evening peak periods. Just over half (54 per cent) of these were arriving passengers.


  • Waterloo is the busiest of the termini handling 20 per cent of all central London passengers during the peaks. The other busiest stations are London Bridge, Victoria and Liverpool Street, with these four accounting for 60 per cent of passengers at the central London termini.figure3
  • The number of male and female passengers were broadly equal among the passengers surveyed, while the age profile showed around half in the 25-44 age group and a further third in the 45-60 age group.


  • The majority of people travelled to or from central London during the peak periods for work related purposes, with 72 per cent travelling to their usual workplace and a further nine per cent stating that they were travelling for „other work‟. There were variations among the stations with those in or around the City of London having the highest number of commuters.


  • Given the high level of commuting and work related journey purposes it is not surprising that 78 per cent of passengers make the journey at least three times per week. The stations with the highest number of infrequent travellers are Euston, St Pancras, Paddington and King’s Cross.




[1] Transport for London. (2011). Central London Rail Termini: Analysing passengers’ onward travel patterns. Retrieved June 05, 2015 from https://www.tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/central-london-rail-termini-report.pdf