Eden’s railway stations got busier with more journeys made last year, bolstering hopes passengers will return after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pressure group Railfuture said the impact of current travel restrictions is causing a “temporary blip” in the continued growth in railway usage nationally.
Office of Road and Rail data shows an estimated 746,000 passengers using Eden’s six stations in 2019-20.
That’s 31,832 more than the previous year, a rise of 4.5 per cent.
The busiest station was Penrith, with 610,000 entries and exits by passengers, followed by Appleby a 60,310, and Kirkby Stephen at 30,912.
The least used station was Armathwaite with passenger usage at 9,510.
It was followed by Lazonby & Kirkoswald at 13,452, and Langwathby, 22,002.
Across the North West, usage of railway stations increased by 17.1 million to 250.8 million in 2019-20, while across Britain it fell 1.1 per cent to three billion.
The ORR has put the national reduction in journeys down to a dramatic drop in passengers in March due to COVID-19 restrictions, with lockdown introduced on March 23.
But Railfuture, an independent organisation with 20,000 members, is hopeful the railway system will recover.
Bruce Williamson, a spokesman for the group, said: “I am very confident that the railways will bounce back when COVID-19 is over.
“We can’t ignore the fact the world has changed and people working from home may stay put – but I still feel for the most part, things will return to normal.
“Considering the underlying trend of increased rail usage over the past 30 years, we have to look at COVID-19 as a temporary blip.”
In Eden there were 14 passenger journeys for every person living in the area in 2019-20 compared to the national rate of 75.
Jay Symonds, ORR senior statistical analyst, said: “The dramatic drop in passenger numbers towards the end of March due to COVID-19 explains much of the drop in usage compared to last year.”
He added: “With numbers staying at historically low levels during 2020, there is no doubt that next year will look a lot different.”