RAIL usage in Malvern and Ledbury has increased greatly over the last 15 years, according to figures released this week.

The figures, from the Office of Rail Regulation, show that between 1997-98 and 2011-12, the number of people using Great Malvern station rose from 342,293 to 502,232 or 47 per cent.

In the same period, usage of Malvern Link rose from 163,982 to 267,422 or 63 per cent, and Colwall from 39,997 to 66,122 or 65 per cent.

And the usage of Ledbury station rose from 101,307 to 193,862, or a massive 91 per cent.

Mike Ledlie of Rail For Herefordshire said: "These figures are really encouraging.

“My prediction is that next year the figures will go up even more, if only by a small amount, because of the recent introduction of Sunday morning services from Hereford and Ledbury to Birmingham."

He said the figures should be used to encourage train operating companies to improve facilities at stations such as Ledbury.

"What we really need is some way for passengers who are disabled or with loads of luggage to reach the Birmingham platform.

“At the moment, if you can't get up the steps to use the bridge, you either have to cross the line illegally, which is dangerous, or go to Hereford, change there and come back, which is very inconvenient.

"Something else they can do is introduce passing places on the single track between Ledbury and Hereford, which will enable them to run more frequent trains.