The Office of Rail Regulation has published its annual list of the most and least used railway stations in the UK. And while the London mainline stations see tens of millions of passengers pass through the gates every year, there are a handful of stations where fewer than 20 people use the station each year.
So which are the least-used stations, and why are they still open?%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
Overall, the report showed that we are actually using the railways more - with a 6.7% increase in the number people people passing through the stations. The most used stations continued to be the London stations - with 94 million people using Waterloo, 76 million using Victoria, 57 million using Liverpool Street and 52.6 million using London Bridge.
Teeside Airport station in Darlington took the top spot as the least-used station in the country, with just 14 passengers in the last year - this was down from the 18 passengers the year before. It is only 15 minutes from an airport which has hosted Airforce One (pictured). However, this station sees two trains a week - both of which stop there on a Sunday. It's arguable that it's not the kind of timetable that's going to increase foot traffic.
This was followed by Dorking West in Surrey, which managed just 16 passengers - down from 22 a year earlier.
Third on the list was Denton in Greater Manchester, which managed 30 - this is actually a reasonable showing given that only one train a week stops at the station - a one-way service on a Friday morning to Stalybridge.
Two of these stations are an anomaly of the promises the train companies give when they are awarded a franchise. They may be told they have to keep a line open. As a result they operate a very small number of trains, known in the business as ghost trains, which saves them the difficulty and expense of going through a formal consultation and closing the station.
The third station on the list is served well - with regular trains to London. It's just that most people in the town use the two other stations in the area Dorking and Deepdene.
There are plenty of other stations struggling with minimal passengers - including Reddish South, Coombe, Elton & Orston, Barry Links, Briech and Buckenham - all of which saw fewer than 50 passengers enter the station during the year.
Why not close?
It's arguable that given the lack of popularity of these stations, it's a waste of money to keep them open. However, The Friends of Denton Station would disagree. They are campaigning for more services to stop there, and in the interim, when a strain does stop, a member of the campaign distributes leaflets to all passengers urging them to continue using the line.
The group's website and Facebook page is a combination of the optimistic and the disappointed. Alan Jones, Chariman, wrote on the site in March: "1,000 leaflets were distributed in shops around the town centre of Denton up to now there has been no feedback whatsoever. I am beginning to despair of the people in the area nobody seems interested but I'm sure of one thing: if we did get a service they would use it and be glad of it ."
So what do you think? Are these stations set to die. or will a combination of local enthusiasm and franchise red tape save these stations?
High Street casualties
The railway station with just 14 passengers a year
Administrators sounded the death knell for Woolworths in December 2008, leading to store closures that left 27,000 people out of work. Since its collapse former Woolworths stores have become a blight in many town centres and more than 100 of the large stores still lay vacant in January 2012.
Loyal customers didn't have go without the family favourite store for long however as it reappeared online as Woolworths.co.uk in 2009, after Shop Direct Home Shopping bought out the Woolworths name.
The greetings cards specialist became the latest highstreet casualty in May with 8,000 jobs on the line when it was forced it into administration. Its biggest supplier, American Greetings, then bought Clintons out of administration and put the retailer through a rebrand including a new logo and complete in-store revamps.
Its contemporary format includes new fixtures and fittings and easier to navigate stores, and will be rolled out to all 400 UK stores at the cost of £16million. Bosses aim to bring the brand back to profit within two years.
Poor sales in the run up to Christmas was the final nail in the coffin for several struggling chains, including lingerie retailer La Senza, which went bust in January 2012 with 146 shops and 2,600 staff. Kuwaiti retailer Alshaya bought part of the business, which saved 60 shops and 1,000 staff.
La Senza has been struggling in a similar way to other specialist shops such as Game and Mothercare, which have been hit by cut-price competition at supermarkets and have no alternative products to help shoulder losses.
Stricken retailer Blacks Leisure, which employed 3,600 staff across 98 Blacks stores and 208 Millets stores, went into administration in Janurary 2012 after failing to find an outright buyer.
Soon after its stores were bought by sportswear firm JD Sports in pre-pack deal - an insolvency procedure which sees a company being sold immediately after it has entered administration – which saw most of Blacks' £36 million of debt wiped out.
Fashion chain Bonmarche, which was part of the Peacock Group, was sold in January when the group collapsed due to unsustainable debts, resulting in 1,400 job losses and 160 store closures. Private equity firm Sun European Partners bought 230 stores, which continue to trade with 2,400 staff.
Peacocks collapsed under a £740 million net debt mountain in January 2012 in the biggest retail failure since Woolworths. Despite being sold out of administration to Edinburgh Woollen Mill in a deal that saved 380 stores and 6,000 jobs, administrators from KPMG were forced to close 224 stores with immediate effect. This lead to 3,350 redundancies from stores and Peacocks head office in Cardiff.
The high street name continues trading as bosses work to stabilise the situation, yet a further blow was dealt this month with news that the firm's pension fund is in £15.8 million shortfall as a result of the collapse.
Game buckled under its £85m debt pile in March 2012 and was placed into administration after being unable to pay a £21m rent bill. Administrator PwC immediately closed 277 shops, with the loss of 2,000 jobs. Soon after, investment firm, OpCapita bought 333 Game stores, saving more than 3,000 jobs.
Game's demise followed a string of profit warnings and the failure of nervous suppliers, including leading names Electronic Arts and Nintendo, to go on providing the latest games, further damaging poor sales.