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Ghost station and ghost trains

Since 2006 no-one could enter the Newhaven Marine railway station in England. From then until 2019 one train passed through the station each day, and it was not allowed to carry any passengers.

This story begins with the Channel Tunnel. When it opened for business in 1994 many of the ferries that crossed the English Channel (or La Manche, if you’re looking at it from the French side) saw a drop in passenger numbers. Some of the smaller ferries shut down entirely.┬áNewhaven Marine railway station used to connect passengers to one of those shut-down ferries. Absent its reason for being, the station has been effectively closed ever since… but it has not been officially closed.

Apparently, closing a railway station is expensive. By law you have to consult with the locals, and I imagine the resulting town meeting is something like a Parks and Recreation forum:

Add to that legal costs and the cost of decommissioning the physical station itself, and sometimes it’s just easier all around to retire the station without officially closing it. In 2006, Newhaven Marine became one of these retired “ghost” stations. The platforms were fenced in and trains no longer stopped there. Except for one.

By UK law every station must be served by at least one train (originally this law was a way to ensure low-cost trains for the poor). To meet this requirement, Newhaven Marine for many years was served by a once-a-day “parliamentary” train. The train stopped at the station every day, but no-one got on and no-one got off. This ghost train had no passengers.

The ghost train stopped in 2019, and public consultation to officially close the station were finally held at the start of this year. It’s scheduled to be actually decommissioned (exorcised?) next month.

[Thanks to Gareth E. for suggesting this topic.]

Categories: Economics & business Europe Places Politics & law

The Generalist

I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.

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