What is a Ghost Station / Limited Service Route??

 Good question For anybody who is new to all this & has no idea what a Parliamentary Ghost Train service is / Ghoststation, it's a station or

Rail line that receives a very limited service usually with only one train a week or one or maybe two a day in some cases and which can also

only runs in one direction ONLY with no return service. For example Bordesley in Birmingham one train a week stops there in one direction

only (No Return service) or the quirky Summers Only Chester - Runcorn Mainline via the Halton Curve that only runs for 16 weeks of the

Summer Timetable (even though the Summer Timetable actually runs longer than the above train work that one out)

To see examples of the above Parliamentary Ghost Train / Stations  see Links Below: 

All links open in a new Window in your Browser: 

Links updated 16th May 2016:  appologise they should now work Now

Bordesley Station one train a week LINK

2F80 07.53 Chester - Runcorn Mainline via Halton Curve 16 weeks only one way LINK

Bordesley in Birmingham although located 10 / 15 mins walk  from the City centre / short walk to Birmingham city’s Football ground only gets

one train that Stops a week on a Saturday at 13.40pm one way only with no return service, & that is it nothing else until the next Saturday!!!

Then the rest of the week Mon - Friday it's Locked up!!! well it was when me and Liz visited in Oct 2010.

OK i understand that it may only get one train a week but why not just close it why bother to run a service at all if nobody is using it!

And in the case of Bordesley if it's Locked up Mon - Friday so i can’t even get in anyway????

Basically the train operating companies have to provide a service to Places like Bordesley its part of the deal when they take on the Franchise.

Because of something called the Passenger Service requirement or (PSR) which Lays down the minimum Train service that said Train Operator

must offer to us the passengers.

For more info on the Passenger Service Requirement (PSR) can be seen in the Link here: 


Plus also add to that the factor that Public transport in the UK is very heavily regulated. But if they want to say close Bordesley station.

So why not just Close it More info?

To put it in basic terms the Train Operator has to spend Thousands of pounds on going through what's called a Formal Closure Procedure:

See LINK below for a picture of text about the Closure procedure


More info on How closures work (OPENS IN NEW WINDOW)

A formal Closure consists basically of having to have a public enquires etc which costs money and is lengthy. So what they do, to get round all

the above the Train Operating Companys will run the most minimum of service they can but still within the Passenger Service Requirement

(PSR) they are regulated by  even if that only means one train a week in one direction only. Because that way they are still technically

providing a service as per they are required to,and It doesn’t matter if nobody ever gets on or off at say Bordesley, Or in the case of

Chester - Runcorn Mainline summers only service (SEE BELOW) that the train runs completely empty for the whole of its Journey which can

happen because they are covering the Required Number of trains to call at said station or along said line etc.

A good example of which is the Summer Saturdays only Chester - Runcorn Mainline Ghost Train which in the 2011 season the first week it ran

it had 39 people ride the first train ( mainly because it was extended through to Liverpool South Parkway & it stopped additionally at Helsby &

Frodsham for a free bus back to Chester ) but the next two Saturday's when it went back to Normal route nonstop to Runcorn Mainline there

was nobody on it only the Guard & Driver!! 

All this though as mad as it sounds it can end up working out cheaper for the Train companies to run these Ghost Train services, rather than

having to go through the lengthy and complicated Closure procedure!!!

So hence why they are called Ghost Trains because they usually either run at obscure times of day like, Chester - Runcorn Mainline at 07.53am

off Chester & usually nobody uses them because there is no return service or the connection is terrible at journeys end and you end up having

to wait ages for a train connection forward to anywhere.

Ok i understand that but How do i find these Ghost Trains / Stations in the Rail Timetables???

They are quite hard to find in these new modern individual pocket timetables, but in the good old days in the Great Britain All Line Timetable

they would show up on the Route map pages as little white squares with Limited Service station in the key.

See Link below for examples of this along with further explanation of how to find them in the modern pocket Train Operating Company


How to find Ghost Stations in Timetables LINK

Further reading and other links about Ghost Trains etc:

I can also highly recommend the Wikipedia Link that goes more in depth and gives the full history about it:

Wikipedia Link about Ghost Trains

Also a Short film made by Dan Curtis from the BBC news website about Ghost stations with me in it Filmed aboard Stockport - Stalybridge

Ghost Train & Helsby - Ellesmere Port can be seen below

BBC News website film about Ghost Trains

Thanks for reading and I hope that I have opened your eyes to this unique quirk of the UK Railway system

Feel free to contact me if you would like to know more by using the Contact link at the top of the Page

Ghost Station Man


16th May 2016 Links re newed so should all work now