Figures released by the Welsh Government show the numbers using railway stations on the North Wales Coast Line, the Conwy Valley Line, the Borderlands line and on routes from Wrexham all increased in 2011/12.
Shotton station saw a 12.8% increase in use while Conwy numbers jumped by 18.6%. Wrexham General saw 622,148 ‘entries and exits’ during 2011/12.
Across Wales the numbers of people using railway stations last year rose by 2.6%. In 2011/12 there were over 47million ‘entries and exits’ from Wales’ 218 railway stations. Station use across Wales has increased in every year since 2004-05.
The AM said the figures showed more lines in North Wales lost under the Beeching axe could be re-opened and made financially viable.
Mr Skates said: “The rise in the numbers of people using North Wales railway stations shows very clearly that the appetite for rail travel in the region is growing. The numbers have been rising consistently over the last decade with evidence of a growth in station use across all parts of North Wales.
“The figures show that with the right kind of investment, our North Wales railways do have a very bright future. Quite a few stations across the region have seen large increases in their use over the last year.
“It raises the possibility, as we mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Beeching report, that more disused lines could be re-opened here in North Wales and given a viable future in our communities. We’ve seen the success of the re-opened Cardiff to Ebbw Vale line, now more routes, such as the Amlwch line in North Wales, could be next.
“Half a century ago large parts of rural Wales in particular was almost cut off by Dr Beeching’s axe. These figures only go to highlight there may be valid economic grounds to re-open some of them as the monopoly of the car continues to be challenged.
“The figures show Wales still punches below its weight in terms of rail. We have around five per cent of the UK population, but account for just two per cent of train station use. The statistics show there is the hunger out there amongst rail passengers for more capacity.
“What is important is that we examine these figures carefully and identify a sensible way forward for Welsh rail, which responds to both the passenger and economic demand and keeps fares reasonable in the long-term.”
For the majority of the busiest 20 stations across Wales the numbers of entries/exits remained relatively stable, with a small rise overall. The remaining Welsh stations showed stronger growth as a whole into 2011-12.