Leeds has one of the busiest train stations in Britain, study finds

The second busiest outside of London, to be exact.

The Office for Rail and Road has found a staggering number of entries and exits have taken place at train stations across Britain – and up here in the North, we’re home to some of the busiest stations around.

Whilst we may not think of Leeds as having the biggest stations, when looking at the number of platforms you’ll find in cities like Manchester or Birmingham, it has been confirmed that we’re still one of the busiest around.

Outside of London, Birmingham New Street was named as the station with the most entries and exits, with 30.7 million recorded between April 2022 and March 2023, with Leeds taking a respectable second place with 24 million entries and exits during this time.

outside of Leeds train station.
Image: Wikipedia

Manchester Piccadilly was found to be the third busiest station with 23.6 million whilst Glasgow Central saw 20.8 million and Cardiff Central hit 10.2 million in fifth.

These numbers are almost incomparable to the number of entries and exits in London, where Liverpool Street station alone saw 80.4 million during this time. The opening of the Elizabeth Line has been said to have a significant increase on these stats, with Paddington Station noting a whopping 59.2 million entries and exits and 57.8 million at Waterloo.

HS2 was scrapped for Leeds back in November 2021, when the then-Prime-Minister Boris Johnson announced plans for the ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail, the new rail improvement programme, will cut the journey from Leeds to Manchester to just 33 minutes and double train capacities.’

It wasn’t until October of this year that current PM Rishi Sunak announced the northern leg of HS2 would be scrapped altogether BUT in a surprise twist, Mr Sunak then announced details of a ‘Network North’ scheme that would improve the infrastructure between and around northern cities.

Leeds train station.
Image: Network Rail

The areas around Leeds Train Station are still undergoing signifiant developments since March 2023, whilst won’t have had a major impact on the current ORR statistics, but potentially could be making a difference to busyness of the station, and therefore the number of entries and exits counted for next year’s review.

The plans form part of the the Leeds Station Sustainable Travel Gateway scheme, with a whopping £39.5 million investment dedicated to giving a refurb of the areas surrounding the station.

Initially it was reported that the work is expected to be completed in its entirety in early 2024, however Leeds City Council has now reported that work is due to be complete by September 2025.

The facelift will see the space outside the train station transition into a pedestrian-friendly space with additional cycle lanes and relocation of the taxi rank.

outside of train station.

According to Leeds City Council, the new work on Leeds train station will include the following changes:

  • Pedestrianising New Station Street, including the section which meets Boar Lane, with outdoor seating and rest areas, and landscaping 
  • Relocating the existing taxi rank to Bishopgate Street where there will be a large and well-lit shelter and room for six vehicles, also allowing for kerb-side boarding which will help people with wheelchairs or assistance dogs to board more easily                                                                 
  • Two 21-passenger lifts from Bishopgate Street to the station entrance on New Station Street, providing step-free access between the two streets.                                                                                                                                            
  • A high quality cycle hub at the station, which will include electric charging points and storage for all types of cycles.                                                                                                    
  • Environmental improvements to Neville Street and Dark Neville Street including enhanced lighting, road surface and pavement and elevation treatments.
  • Installing high quality cycle infrastructure on Bishopgate Street and Neville Street, and improvements to cycling infrastructure in surrounding communities.

You can read more about what Leeds Train Station will look like in 2025 here.

outside of train station.

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Feature Image – Network Rail

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