08:02AM, Friday 27 September 2013
Connection problems have been cited as one possible reason why the number of people using stations in the area is growing at a slower rate than the national average.
The Marlow-Maidenhead Passenger Association (MMPA) has analysed information published by the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR), which shows station usage is on the up, but in many areas is less than the national growth rate of about six per cent.
Figures for 2011/2012 show usage in Maidenhead increased by 3.69 per cent (a yearly rise of 141,018 passengers) compared to the previous year, but the rise was around one per cent for Bourne End and Marlow and 2.25 per cent for Cookham.
Burnham, Slough and Twyford's increases were more in line with the national average, while Taplow saw a bump of 17,618 passengers, a rise of 8.29 per cent.
While some commuters may welcome fewer passengers packing on to busy trains, Susan Morrison, chairman of the MMPA, warned the figures are not helping to reduce any overcrowding issues.
She said the fact that growth is lower further down the line heading away from London could mean rail users are changing the stations they use or driving more, perhaps due to becoming frustrated with missed or late connections.
"My hypothesis is that it's no secret in the past year there's been a lot of connectivity problems for the branch. Part of this is normal stuff but the bigger problem is we are starting to see the impact of Crossrail," she said.
Susan likened the change to 'squeezing the balloon from one side to another', meaning the number of people using busy trains is not dropping but where people start or end their journeys may be changing.
"I'm happy if people have a choice but we want to keep the branch being well used," she said. "We don't want people on the roads instead."
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