Trivia: Large towns in UK with no railway station

daodao

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Oldham mumps had a 15 minute frequency throughout the day. Trains continued throughout the north of Manchester not just Victoria.
Pre-Metrolink, the frequency of trains from Oldham Mumps to M/c Victoria via Failsworth varied. In 1962, the off-peak frequency was every 20 minutes, with alternate trains from Rochdale/Royton. Later, after the Royton branch closed, it was every 30 minutes. In 2007, there were 4 tph, with a stopping service every 30 minutes from Shaw to Victoria, and a fast service every 30 minutes from Rochdale calling at all stations to Shaw and then Oldham Mumps only. Most services generally terminated at Victoria, although in latter years some services entering Victoria from the east have extended beyond Victoria for operational convenience.

However, all of these frequencies are much lower than the current Metrolink frequency of every 6 minutes.
 
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daodao

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And it's a deeply unhelpful argument: regardless of council boundaries, we're ultimately still a decently large town in our own right with no rail connections (and increasingly few decent bus connections).
Newcastle under Lyme is (and always has been) separate administratively from the Five Towns (actually 6, as Fenton is defined as a town in its own right), but its centre is just under 3 miles from Stoke station, with 4 direct bus services, 3 of which are each every 20 minutes Mon-Fri daytime.

There are other substantial towns over 10 miles from a rail station. In North Staffordshire, Leek (population about 20k) is over 10 miles from Stoke station and there are no direct bus services between the 2 locations. Biddulph, with a similar population, also has no railway station (the infrequent passenger service to it ceased as early as July 1927), but there are some direct bus services to Congleton station (the nearest) and Stoke station.

In Cheshire/Lancashire (including Greater M/c and Scouseland), most significant places are served by or close to regular train/tram services, although there are none in the borough of Rossendale. That could be resolved if a regular train service was re-established on extant lines from Rawtenstall via Ramsbottom/Bury/Heywood to M/c Victoria.
 

daodao

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The area currently part of the UK with the worst rail provision is the western part of the Six Counties, 2 of which (Fermanagh, Tyrone) have no rail services whatsoever. This area includes the substantial towns of Enniskillen (Co. Fermanagh) and Cookstown/Dungannon/Omagh/Strabane (Co. Tyrone), together with the city of Armagh. The other 3 counties of Ulster in Eire (Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan) also have no rail services.

This is due to the wilful destruction of the GNR by the Stormont administration in the 1950s, which also led to closure of the SLNCR, followed by the closure of the Derry Road in 1965 following the Benson report, which was carried out on Beeching's advice. The closure of the ex-GNR route to Derry, but retention of the ex-NCC route via Co Antrim because it served the strongly Protestant towns of Coleraine and Ballymena, was a contributory factor in the civil rights campaign of the late 1960s. The Benson report actually recommended closure of both rail routes to Derry city; the population of its urban area now exceeds 100k (based on 2011 Census).

The other area currently part of the UK with particularly poor railway services is the north east of Scotland, in particular Banff and Buchan (including the towns of Banff/Macduff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead) and Strathmore (including the towns of Blairgowrie, Forfar, Kirriemuir and Brechin). None of these towns now has a regular rail service.
 
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70014IronDuke

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... In North Staffordshire, Leek (population about 20k) is over 10 miles from Stoke station and there are no direct bus services between the 2 locations. Biddulph, with a similar population, also has no railway station ...
Hmmm. Like many of the older folk in here, trainspotting from childhood + a lifelong interest in railways + a geographical mind means I have a far greater knowledge of places in the UK than 97% of normals. It is rare that I can't identify someone's home location to within 5 miles - even if it's only a signal box on a line that I've never been on.

But Biddulph had me stumped. I confess that out of context, I wouldn't have known if it was a place, a fabric, rock group or some kind of exotic new food. Not helped because I've never, ever had reason to visit that corner of Staffs. (I knew Leek, of course, from the Leek and Manifold Rlwy.) Thanks! (And chances are I'll meet two people from there within the next month - it always seems to happen that way!)
 

Djgr

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Hmmm. Like many of the older folk in here, trainspotting from childhood + a lifelong interest in railways + a geographical mind means I have a far greater knowledge of places in the UK than 97% of normals. It is rare that I can't identify someone's home location to within 5 miles - even if it's only a signal box on a line that I've never been on.

But Biddulph had me stumped. I confess that out of context, I wouldn't have known if it was a place, a fabric, rock group or some kind of exotic new food. Not helped because I've never, ever had reason to visit that corner of Staffs. (I knew Leek, of course, from the Leek and Manifold Rlwy.) Thanks! (And chances are I'll meet two people from there within the next month - it always seems to happen that way!)
Try asking "normals" where Newcastle is and see how many even know that there is more than one, let alone locate it.
 

daodao

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But Biddulph had me stumped. I confess that out of context, I wouldn't have known if it was a place, a fabric, rock group or some kind of exotic new food. Not helped because I've never, ever had reason to visit that corner of Staffs. Thanks!
There is a beautiful (and exotic) NT garden at Biddulph Grange (at one time used as an orthopaedic hospital), which is well worth visiting.
 

daodao

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Try asking "normals" where Newcastle is and see how many even know that there is more than one, let alone locate it.
There are of course other towns called Newcastle in Britain and Ireland, all with former railway stations, including:
  • Newcastle Emlyn (served by GWR)
  • Newcastle, Co. Down (served by BCDR/GNR)
  • Newcastle West (served by GSWR)
I also used to work in Casnewydd (shortened from Castell Newydd ar Wysg), better known as Newport, Gwent.
 

Mikey C

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Fleetwood,Lancashire has the tram to Blackpool but many blame the loss of the BR service on the towns decline.
I'd dispute that, as many other coastal places have also gone into decline, despite being on the NR network, e.g. Blackpool, Morecambe, Rhyl

It's not as if Fleetwood is inaccessible anyway, with its excellent tram and bus connections to Blackpool when compared to some of the other towns on this thread.
 

Llandudno

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The thing is, a lot of these issues could be somewhat mitigated if there was proper through ticketing with high quality bus services and marketing. There are many towns which will probably never justify reopening a rail line for whatever reason, for example Abingdon. But if you had TVMs at the main bus stop in Abingdon, which sold the appropriate through tickets, along with guarantees on bus connections and delay repay, you could mitigate the lack of a service. It would require a joined-up approach, but would be far cheaper than rebuilding lines which are often built on.
Yep, loads of examples throughout the country, but I guess bus deregulation makes it tricky...

Here are a few suggestions, feel free to add your own:

Bangor - Caernarfon
Blaenau Ffestiniog- Porthmadog
Ruabon - Llangollen - Barmouth
Matlock - Bakewell - Buxton
Exeter - Bude
Carlisle - Galashiels
Harrogate - Ripon
Keswick - Penrith
Gobowen - Oswestry
Hornsea/Withernsea - Hull

You could even try and build in most of the TrawsCymru bus network, should be relatively straightforward to do as the Welsh Assembly specify most of the routes and times - well it was a thought!
 

Comstock

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Once upon a time, the Ffestiniog railway marketed themselves as a way to bridge that particular gap in the network.

These days I think they've gone back to being purely a tourist attraction.
 

Llandudno

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Once upon a time, the Ffestiniog railway marketed themselves as a way to bridge that particular gap in the network.

These days I think they've gone back to being purely a tourist attraction.
You can still buy a Ffestiniog round robin ticket, but of no use in the winter or for passengers wishing to make regular, routine journeys- great for tourists though!
 

cheese

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Newcastle is (and always has been) separate administratively from the Five Towns (actually 6, as Fenton is defined as a town in its own right), but its centre is just under 3 miles from Stoke station, with 4 direct bus services, 3 of which are each every 20 minutes Mon-Fri daytime.
Theoretically, yes. But they're unreliable, and they take such a stupid route, that it's often quicker to walk (for me, always).
 

vlad

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Newcastle is (and always has been) separate administratively from the Five Towns....
Which Five Towns? They're in Yorkshire (or New York) and so naturally have no connections to North Staffordshire.

Unless of course you think we actually live in an Arnold Bennett novel which is offensive to say the least.
 

billio

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I'd dispute that, as many other coastal places have also gone into decline, despite being on the NR network, e.g. Blackpool, Morecambe, Rhyl

It's not as if Fleetwood is inaccessible anyway, with its excellent tram and bus connections to Blackpool when compared to some of the other towns on this thread.
I know what you are saying, the tram is a good service, but how much longer does it take to get to Fleetwood via Blackpool when compared with a direct train ?. An hour compared with about 10 minutes on the train.
A similar situation applies with Oldham: a frequent all stops tram is good but no quicker, direct service. And Bury too, now about 25 minutes compared with the fastest service of about 15 minutes. These towns with quite a large population have been cut-off from the national rail network.
 

ian1944

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There is a beautiful (and exotic) NT garden at Biddulph Grange (at one time used as an orthopaedic hospital), which is well worth visiting.
Further away but equally well worth visiting is the village of Mow Cop on its rocky summit on the Cheshire/Staffs border. The long-closed Mow Cop and Scholar Green station was one of those in the elegiac song "Slow Train".
 

cheese

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Which Five Towns? They're in Yorkshire (or New York) and so naturally have no connections to North Staffordshire.

Unless of course you think we actually live in an Arnold Bennett novel which is offensive to say the least.
People don't understand the Potteries.
 

tbtc

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Fleetwood,Lancashire has the tram to Blackpool but many blame the loss of the BR service on the towns decline.
I'd dispute that, as many other coastal places have also gone into decline, despite being on the NR network, e.g. Blackpool, Morecambe, Rhyl
I'm with Mikey here - many coastal places have declined (relative to big inland cities) for many reasons - the train service is probably a tiny reason (maybe you could even praise Dr Beeching for having the foresight to know many years in advance which towns would decline and therefore not need their trains... removing tongue from cheek)

Some of the coastal places that have had a renaissance are precious little to do with the fact that they kept a train station (the infrequent service means that the numbers arriving into Newquay/ Whitby by rail are pretty insignificant) or even coastal places with no train station that have done well.

We have been here before, and I don't think the topic should be considered as "trivia" - it's an important issue.
It's "trivial" for the purposes of this Forum though - it's an argument in which places make the most compelling cases, where people round up the population stats to come up with the biggest places then casually disregard inconvenient nearby stations (e.g. it sounds important if someone quotes the whole metropolitan borough of Oldham for the list and then decides that the fact that there is a train station inside that area doesn't count because it's not in central Oldham town)

Cirencester, 20k but nearest main station is Stroud and Kemble. Can even get a hourly bus to Cheltenham and Swindon although both take good 50 minutes.
The fact that it only sustains a hourly commercial bus service would count against any re-opening though

And it's a deeply unhelpful argument: regardless of council boundaries, we're ultimately still a decently large town in our own right with no rail connections (and increasingly few decent bus connections).
Genuine question then - what service would there be if a station opened?

I don't claim to know the Potteries situation as well as a local, so I won't pretend to... but a lot of the time on threads like this, there's suggestions for putting places "on the map" but no real discussion about what kind of practical service it could sustain.

Would it be a frequent shuttle from Newcastle to Stoke? Because my understanding from a few visits to the area is that the main local demand would be to central Hanley (at the top of the hill, far from the current Stoke station)... or would it be extending the current Manchester - Stoke service to Newcastle? Diverting some ex-Crewe services (Derby or London) to serve Newcastle instead? Is there a particular flow that would best suit Newcastle residents (or attract people towards the town)? Is a line through to Keele remotely feasible?

I can see the logic in a large urban area being connected to the network (compared to the quaint rural villages that people usually suggest on such threads) but I just don't know how a line would work/ what would be a reasonable enough service to justify it. A half hourly shuttle to Stoke? But the station in Stoke isn't well placed, so would a line only be of use for people in Newcastle changing there to get out of the Potteries on longer distance trains passing through Stoke?

There's a decent population there but for heavy rail to work there needs to be one big obvious flow - e.g. for Ebbw Vale there was the obvious big city of Cardiff to run to - if Portishead ever opens then a line to Bristol mirrors the regular commercial bus services - but how do you serve Newcastle? And, given the size of the place, would a train station even be that useful for a large proportion of households?

Yep, loads of examples throughout the country, but I guess bus deregulation makes it tricky...

Here are a few suggestions, feel free to add your own:

Bangor - Caernarfon
Blaenau Ffestiniog- Porthmadog
Ruabon - Llangollen - Barmouth
Matlock - Bakewell - Buxton
Exeter - Bude
Carlisle - Galashiels
Harrogate - Ripon
Keswick - Penrith
Gobowen - Oswestry
Hornsea/Withernsea - Hull
These are all rural routes with no major intermediate places, not really suited to rail

Once upon a time, the Ffestiniog railway marketed themselves as a way to bridge that particular gap in the network.

These days I think they've gone back to being purely a tourist attraction.
...which suggests that there's not much demand for everyday passengers (and a Sprinter isn't going to provide the same "experience" that tourists will shell out big money for)
 

Mikey C

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If the number of buses is an indication that the railway station is really missed, Abingdon has an incredibly frequent service from Oxford. Though as the buses go into the centre, rather than the more remote railway station, many people might still take the bus even if there was a railway service.
 

Chris M

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These are all rural routes with no major intermediate places, not really suited to rail
While the area between Caernarfon and Bangor is indeed mostly rural, Caernarfon itself is a large enough destination to support a mainline railway - especially if the line then continued to Pwllheli.
 

cheese

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I'm with Mikey here - many coastal places have declined (relative to big inland cities) for many reasons - the train service is probably a tiny reason (maybe you could even praise Dr Beeching for having the foresight to know many years in advance which towns would decline and therefore not need their trains... removing tongue from cheek)

Some of the coastal places that have had a renaissance are precious little to do with the fact that they kept a train station (the infrequent service means that the numbers arriving into Newquay/ Whitby by rail are pretty insignificant) or even coastal places with no train station that have done well.



It's "trivial" for the purposes of this Forum though - it's an argument in which places make the most compelling cases, where people round up the population stats to come up with the biggest places then casually disregard inconvenient nearby stations (e.g. it sounds important if someone quotes the whole metropolitan borough of Oldham for the list and then decides that the fact that there is a train station inside that area doesn't count because it's not in central Oldham town)



The fact that it only sustains a hourly commercial bus service would count against any re-opening though



Genuine question then - what service would there be if a station opened?

I don't claim to know the Potteries situation as well as a local, so I won't pretend to... but a lot of the time on threads like this, there's suggestions for putting places "on the map" but no real discussion about what kind of practical service it could sustain.

Would it be a frequent shuttle from Newcastle to Stoke? Because my understanding from a few visits to the area is that the main local demand would be to central Hanley (at the top of the hill, far from the current Stoke station)... or would it be extending the current Manchester - Stoke service to Newcastle? Diverting some ex-Crewe services (Derby or London) to serve Newcastle instead? Is there a particular flow that would best suit Newcastle residents (or attract people towards the town)? Is a line through to Keele remotely feasible?

I can see the logic in a large urban area being connected to the network (compared to the quaint rural villages that people usually suggest on such threads) but I just don't know how a line would work/ what would be a reasonable enough service to justify it. A half hourly shuttle to Stoke? But the station in Stoke isn't well placed, so would a line only be of use for people in Newcastle changing there to get out of the Potteries on longer distance trains passing through Stoke?

There's a decent population there but for heavy rail to work there needs to be one big obvious flow - e.g. for Ebbw Vale there was the obvious big city of Cardiff to run to - if Portishead ever opens then a line to Bristol mirrors the regular commercial bus services - but how do you serve Newcastle? And, given the size of the place, would a train station even be that useful for a large proportion of households?



These are all rural routes with no major intermediate places, not really suited to rail



...which suggests that there's not much demand for everyday passengers (and a Sprinter isn't going to provide the same "experience" that tourists will shell out big money for)
I mean, the Potteries is an absolute void, and there's no practical suggestion to be made. I'm just wanting to vent about the general and pervasive feeling of hopelessness that comes with being a resident of North Staffs. Besides, it's a weird place that likely isn't easy to design a transport network for.
 
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Certainly if there was a station there bus routes would change, and I could see Thames Travel extending the current X32 fro Wantage down (the X2 goes to Wallingford and has decent local use from experience). But the 67 is a real basket case - since it's ran by Thames Travel in the heart of Stagecoach territory, through ticketing is awful and travel between Wantage and Swindon is difficult. You could maybe run an hourly service: Wantage Road Station - Grove - Wantage - Stanford - Faringdon - Shrivenham - Swindon. If demand exists, then similar to the 66/S6 you could expand the service gradually.

In a fantasy world, I'd reopen Steventon, Wootton Bassett*, and Shrivenham, along with a few local stations in Swindon (Toothill/Bridgemead/Stratton), and perhaps a park and ride near M4 J16. Then you could have local services running between Wootton Bassett or Chippenham and Oxford or Reading, as a sort of Swindon/White Horse Cross Rail. The cost would be high (though given the rapid growth in Swindon and Oxfordshire BCR wouldn't be dire), but the true problem would be paths.

* (Royal) Wootton Bassett isn't the biggest of towns, but it must be one of the larger places without a station to have not only a railway running past, but a major junction too!
I think Royal Wooton Bassett is a bit of a non-starter as you said because of paths. But, opening an M4 J16 park and ride, Wantage Road,Toothill,Stratton,Shrivenham and Steventon could be done with an easy extension of the London to Didcot Parkway service to Swindon without severely impacting on GWML paths. Extending the X32 as well is a good shout, to start with anyway going all the way to the reopened Wantage Road. The S6 "model" is what I was thinking of, the point I was making with the through service of the X2 all the way to Swindon is that it would more convenient to have a single-operator(multi-operator ticketing and connections are sadly a barrier in this corner of the world as you've demonstrated),no-changes route from Wallingford to Swindon or maybe just Wantage Road to Swindon,replacing the 67,to start with since the X2 is at a relatively decent standard already and is working well. Even just a straight hourly service on the trial section between Wantage Road and Swindon could be a renewed lifeline and/or revitalization moment for some of the villages like Stanford-in-the-Vale along the route and would provide potentially a lot of fare income at the Faringdon to Swindon section of the route,justifying the village section as more of a social section. It also might be quite popular with tourists because I believe it passes quite close to Uffington White Horse, which I'm sure you know is quite popular in terms of tourists and anything to remove cars from the area and make it accessible to non-drivers would be great. I hope that eventually though the whole route could be joined up Wallingford to Swindon with half hourly service Mon-Sat daytime and hourly at all other times like the X2 was formed out of Wallingford to Didcot and Didcot to Wantage if the traffic levels justified it and I feel like the new station and people commuting to it on buses from the outlying villages like at Didcot Parkway could be the catalyst.
 
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I mean, the Potteries is an absolute void, and there's no practical suggestion to be made. I'm just wanting to vent about the general and pervasive feeling of hopelessness that comes with being a resident of North Staffs. Besides, it's a weird place that likely isn't easy to design a transport network for.
What about a reopened line to Leek to start with and a mixed dual-carriageway/street-running tram,given that the old railway alignment through a lot of the Potteries has unfortunately been built all over and you have a lot of decent dual-carriageways where perhaps there is space for a tram.
 

61653 HTAFC

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Which Five Towns? They're in Yorkshire
The Staffordshire ones are more well-known nationwide in my experience, in part thanks to their literary connections. The Yorkshire ones are off-topic for this thread anyway, as they all eventually had their stations re-opened in some form. These days the "rhubarb triangle" overshadows and overlaps them.
 
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tbtc

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If the number of buses is an indication that the railway station is really missed, Abingdon has an incredibly frequent service from Oxford. Though as the buses go into the centre, rather than the more remote railway station, many people might still take the bus even if there was a railway service.
It's a rule of thumb that I've applied to see whether there's a large enough market of people travelling along a particular corridor, willing to give up their cars.

It's not fully scientific, sure, but it does differentiate between the "this area has half a million people living in it, but spread across hundreds of square miles, so hard for one rail line to be of practical use to large numbers" arguments (e.g. rural Devon/ Norfolk/ Cumbria) and the "this town may not be high up the list of places without a station but can clearly sustain frequent commercial bus services to the nearest big city, so there's an obvious flow that rail could serve (e.g. Ashington/ Blyth/ Portishead).

So Levenmouth (a recent announcement) makes sense, since there are frequent Stagecoach services to Kirkcaldy (and three coaches per hour to Edinburgh), but it's harder to justify some of the quirky rural suggestions that you get on here.

For me there's a huge difference between "wanting to put a place on the map, restore some civic pride, tick a box" and "running a railway that will attract sufficient people to cover its future operating costs" (I'm not asking for new lines to be profitable enough to pay off all construction costs within a couple of years, but to at least be able to run without operational subsidy after the first couple of years of attracting passengers).

While the area between Caernarfon and Bangor is indeed mostly rural, Caernarfon itself is a large enough destination to support a mainline railway - especially if the line then continued to Pwllheli.
At least there's been a long established regular bus corridor towards Bangor/ Llandudno, which suggests that there's a market for rail, week in week out. Pwllheli, I'm less convinced about though.

I mean, the Potteries is an absolute void, and there's no practical suggestion to be made. I'm just wanting to vent about the general and pervasive feeling of hopelessness that comes with being a resident of North Staffs. Besides, it's a weird place that likely isn't easy to design a transport network for.
That's fair enough - I know that First have had problems over the years with the ex-PMT network - partly due to the geography of the area - with most provincial bus operations it's a simple hub/spoke network that provides people with a straightforward service into the town centre - but the complicated nature of the Potteries towns means it's hard to do that (since the demand may be split between a service to Hanley/ Stoke/ Newcastle... so that you could have fifty passengers wanting to travel (clearly sufficient to sustain a commercial bus service) but spread between three destinations (so hard to make one service profitable, so each market dwindles).
 

Ken H

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I know what you are saying, the tram is a good service, but how much longer does it take to get to Fleetwood via Blackpool when compared with a direct train ?. An hour compared with about 10 minutes on the train.
A similar situation applies with Oldham: a frequent all stops tram is good but no quicker, direct service. And Bury too, now about 25 minutes compared with the fastest service of about 15 minutes. These towns with quite a large population have been cut-off from the national rail network.
and you cant get a through bury - london ticket. get to Manc and rebook. madess.
 

mailbyrail

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I seem to remember reading something published in the early years of the 20th century claiming it was either Painswick (Glos) or Beaumaris (Anglesey)
 

geoffk

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There are of course other towns called Newcastle in Britain and Ireland, all with former railway stations, including:
  • Newcastle Emlyn (served by GWR)
  • Newcastle, Co. Down (served by BCDR/GNR)
  • Newcastle West (served by GSWR)
I also used to work in Casnewydd (shortened from Castell Newydd ar Wysg), better known as Newport, Gwent.
and Newcastleton, also once served by rail
 

DavidGrain

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Slightly off topic, but what is the largest town never to have had a rail service?
The problem with this question is that many stations when built were not in the towns that they were named after. For example, my local station, Rowley Regis wasn't even in the same county as Rowley Regis (the town). It was in Halesowen Worcestershire. not Rowley Regis Staffordshire. Even today after boundary changes and local government reorganisation, one end of platform 2 is in a different metropolitan borough from the rest of the station.
 

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