The latest Estimates of Station Usage for 2017-18, for all stations in Great Britain, were published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) on 11 December 2018. There were almost 2 million entries and exits at Bicester Village station representing a 50% increase in usage compared with the previous year.
The estimates of station usage consist of the total numbers of people either travelling from or to the station (entries and exits); or interchanging at the station. The figures are collated from April to April and cover the first full year since Chiltern Railways Oxford to Marylebone route was completed in December 2016.
Usage at Oxford was up by 20% at 8.0 million. There were big increases at Oxford Parkway and Islip too. However, Marylebone remained flat at 16.7 million.
Elsewhere on the Chiltern line, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Warwick Parkway, Solihull and High Wycombe all showed small increases. Meanwhile Bicester North showed a 14% drop in usage. Birmingham Moor Street and Birmingham Snow Hill also saw small decreases.
|Station||2017-18 Entries||2016-17 Entries||2015-16 Entries||Change since 2016-17|
|Bicester North [BCS]||791,874||923,400||1,416,600||-131,526 [-14.2%]|
|Bicester Village [BIT]||1,978,978||1,311,238||413,432||+667,740 [+50.9%]|
|Islip [ISP]||34,100||19,600||10,482||+14,500 [+74.0%]|
|Oxford Parkway [OXP]||938,844||809,812||274,696||+129,032 [+15.9%]|
|Oxford [OXF]||7,984,182||6,631,498||6,564,678||+1,352,684 [+20.4%]|
However, on the North Cotswolds line and other routes into Oxford, usage fell. Didcot Parkway remains the second busiest station in Oxfordshire, despite a 10.4% drop in usage to 3.2 million. This is a little surprising since the start of electric services from late 2017. These figures were typical as the trend across London and the South East generally was down 0.4% in 2017-18.
Banbury was up 5.2% at 2.6 million making it the third busiest in the county. The only other Oxfordshire station not already mentioned which recorded an increase (21.2%) was Culham. More employment at Culham Science Centre accounts for the 15,000 extra users.
While Oxford will have seem some growth from further afield, a fair proportion of the 1.35 million increase will be due to commuting on the new Chiltern service, particularly from Bicester. The 14-minute journey is attractive compared with the alternative bus routes via the congested A34.
There has also been some abstraction in usage from Bicester North to Bicester Village from where, despite more limited car parking facilities, the train service to and from Marylebone is preferred. Both stations have two trains per hour from London but the two fast Chiltern Mainline trains each hour to Bicester Village and Oxford, is more evenly spaced. Returning to Bicester North from Marylebone, the 2 trains typically leave within a few minutes of each other. The first is a fast Mainline train to Birmingham followed by a second stopping train to Banbury.
Commuting from Bicester to Oxford is only set to grow further when the service increases to 5 trains per hour in December 2023. On completion of East West Rail Phase 2 an extra 2tph will link Oxford to Milton Keynes with a further ,1 tph to Bedford.
Combined usage at the two Bicester stations now exceeds that at Banbury. It sees likely Bicester Village will become busier than Banbury, in time possibly even rivalling Didcot to become the second busiest station in the county?