Rail passengers on the hunt for hidden gems this Easter
Published: 14 Mar 2023
- Passenger data revealed by GTR shows unexpected UK spots that proved popular last Easter and could be on trend for 2023
- As the bank holiday draws closer, the rail operator is encouraging people to consider alternative day trips and explore lesser-known gems
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is the UK’s largest rail operator, with a network spanning more than 800 miles and 11 counties. However, despite serving some of the country’s most popular day trip destinations, such as Brighton, London and Cambridge, it was lesser-known destinations that attracted a surprising jump in visitor numbers over Easter last year; and the trend for seeking out hidden gems looks set to continue in 2023.
Eastbourne, on the southeast coast of England, saw a staggering increase of 121% for footfall through the station on Good Friday (15 April 2022) when compared to the week before (8 April 2022). The seaside town in East Sussex is likely to be just as popular this year as The Turner Prize comes to the Towner Gallery, which is hoping to attract 250,000 visitors through its doors. Trains to Eastbourne can be taken from Brighton, London and Ashford in Kent.
Another coastal town that proved to be a hit last Easter is Shoreham-by-Sea. On Easter Sunday in particular (17 April 2022), the station had an 88% increase in passenger numbers compared to the Sunday prior. Home to an historic fort and quiet beach, the destination is a draw for those looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of nearby Brighton and Hove. Fans of independent shopping should check out the Easter Makers Fair on Saturday 8 April, featuring exhibitors from across Sussex.
On the northern part of GTR’s network, stations such as Alexandra Palace and St Albans City are always popular with day trippers, but last Easter weekend it was Hertford North and Letchworth Garden City that saw the sharpest rise in footfall north of the river.
Passenger numbers to Hertford North grew by 180% on Easter Sunday 2022, with Letchworth Garden City following closely behind at 163% compared to the week before (10 April 2022). These surprising Hertfordshire towns could appeal to London families looking to easily escape the city for the day, reachable in under an hour thanks to direct services on Thameslink and Great Northern. Kids can explore the large nature reserve at Norton Common or take part in an Easter egg hunt at Standalone Farm – for culture seekers, the Hertford Arts Festival begins on Sunday 9 April.
Jenny Saunders, Customer Service Director at Govia Thameslink Railway, commented on the findings: “Thanks to the growing trend for staycations, people have really enjoyed getting out and uncovering new places in the UK. Travelling by train provides a fantastic way to explore the country and it’s great that we have so many options for day trips and staycations across our network.
“Leisure travel has bounced back following the pandemic and although we can get people to popular tourist spots, it’s nice to see our customers taking advantage of lesser-known town and country destinations and all that they have to offer.”
Tickets are on sale now for the Easter holidays and with deals such as kids for £2 and 2FOR1 on attractions – travelling by train offers good value, convenience and a variety of destinations within easy reach.
Find out more and book tickets on Southern, Thameslink or Great Northern.