SOME main line train stations are operating with fewer than 30 passengers - not just in an hour or a day but in a whole year.

Teesside Airport station in Darlington had just 14 passengers in the 12 months ending March 2012 and only 18 in the year before that.

Dorking West in Surrey could boast only 16 passengers in 2011/12 and just 22 in 2010/11.

The third least-busy station in 2011/12, with 30 passengers, was Denton in Greater Manchester which has just one train a week - a one-way Friday morning service that runs between Stockport and Stalybridge.

In 2010/11 Denton, part of the Norther Rail train company route network, had a total of 52 passengers.

A spokeswoman for Northern Rail said today: "It was part of our rail franchise agreement that we would keep this Denton service going in order to keep the line open."

These particular services are known by some as ghost trains.

She went on: "Although passenger numbers are low, we continue to work closely with the Friends of Denton station group and the South East Manchester Community Rail Partnership on a local level.

"We would look to industry partners such as the Department for Transport to specify a higher level of service to the station and help us to contribute funding for it."

The figures on train station usage are based on annual station exits and entrances. They have been compiled by transport consultants Steer Davies and Gleave and have been published by the Office of Rail Regulation.