Train Station

Passengers bustle around the typical grand edifice of London's Broad Street station in 1865.

A 'train station' (also called a 'railway station', 'railroad station', or 'depot') is a facility at which passengers may board and alight from trains and/or goods may be loaded or unloaded. It consists usually of at least one building for passengers (and possibly goods) plus other installations associated with the functioning of the railway or railroad.

Early stations were usually built with both passenger and goods facilities (though there was very often a separate freight terminal nearby, even in quite small communities). This dual purpose is less common today, and in many cases goods facilities are restricted to major stations. Generally stations are sited next to a railway line, or form the terminus for a particular route. Usually platforms are present to allow passengers to access trains easily and safely. Platforms may be connected by subways, footbridges, or level crossings; passenger facilities such as shelter, ticket sales and benches can be found both on the platforms and in the station building.

The term 'station stop' is used to differentiate a stop for a station from a stop for another reason, such as a locomotive change.

As well as providing services for passengers and loading facilities for goods, stations often had locomotive and rolling stock depots (which usually had facilities for storing and refuelling locomotives and rolling stock and carrying out minor repair jobs). A railway station that is jointly used by several rail transport companies is sometimes called a union station, or an interchange station. Stations co-located with other transport systems such as trams and buses may also be referred to as interchanges, as may stations offering both metro/subway and heavy-rail services.

Development
Modern stations, such as Kyoto Station in Kyoto, Japan, are often still built to a grand scale, though with steel, glass and abstract design.

The first train stations resembled tram stops, with little in the way of buildings or facilities. The first train stations in the modern sense were on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, opened in 1830. Today Manchester's 'Liverpool Road station' is preserved as part of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. It resembles a row of Georgian houses http://www.msim.org.uk/galleries.asp?main=010400.

In rural and remote communities across Canada and the United States passengers wanting to board the train had to literally flag the train down in order for it to stop. Such stations were known as "Flag stops" or "Flag stations".cite web | title=Stations of the Gatineau Railway | work=Historical Society of the Gatineau | url=http://collections.ic.gc.ca/gatineau/stations.html | accessdate=2006-05-11

Many stations — unsurprisingly — date from the 19th century and reflect the architecture of the time, grand in scale and size, lending prestige to the city as well as to railway operations. Countries where railways arrived later may still have such architecture, as later stations often imitated 19th century styles. Various forms of architecture have been used in the construction of train stations, from those boasting grand and intricate almost Baroque or Gothic-style edifices, to more stark utilitarian or modern styles. Stations built more recently often have a similar feel to airports, with a cold and plain abstract style.

Examples of modern stations include those on newer high-speed rail networks, such as the Shinkansen in Japan, TGV lines in France, Berlin's new Hauptbahnhof station, or ICE lines in Germany. Britain boasts a new modern rail terminus at Waterloo International, the end-point for the Eurostar Channel Tunnel rail services to France and Belgium. This station will cease to be the Eurostar terminal when the new St Pancras railway station, connected to the high-speed Channel Tunnel rail link, opens in 2007.

Superlatives

The world's busiest train station, in terms of daily passenger throughput, is Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, Japan. Ikebukuro Station, just minutes away, is the world's second-busiest.

The world's largest train station, in terms of floor area, is Nagoya Station in Nagoya, Japan. However, the Nagoya Station complex incorporates two office towers and an underground shopping concourse, so the railway terminal itself is not large in comparison to others. Shinjuku Station is the second largest. In terms of platform capacity, the world's largest train station is Grand Central Terminal in New York City, USA.

Terminus Stations

A 'terminus' is a station sited where a railway line ends or terminates. Thus, platforms can be reached without crossing the lines.

Often a terminus is the final destination of a train, but not necessarily. When a train is required to travel onwards from a terminus, it must reverse out of the station to continue the trip. Various methods exist to counter this problem.

The same applies if the station is not a terminus, but the train service involves reversing direction anyway.

Reversing direction often causes some worry to travellers who are inexperienced and have no detailed geographic knowledge of the railway lines — one might assume the train has finished its journey and is returning to the starting location. Some travellers prefer facing forward; if possible they change place when there is a reversal of direction. In some types of carriages, train personnel (or even passengers themselves) are able to turn the seats when the train changes direction so that all travellers face forward.

Station Facilities

Railway stations usually include either ticket booths, or ticket machines. Ticket sales may also be combined with customer service desks or convenience stores. Many stations include some form of convenience store. Larger stations usually have fast-food or restaurant facilities. In some countries, such stations also have a bar, or pub. Other station facilities include: toilets, left-luggage, lost-and-found, departures and arrivals boards, luggage carts, waiting rooms, taxi ranks and bus bays. Larger or manned stations tend to have a greater range of facilities. A most basic station might only have platforms, though it would still be distinguished from a 'halt', a stopping or halting place that may not even have platforms.

Configurations of Train Stations

The modern non-terminus Lewes Station in East Sussex, England serves trains passing through the station. Passengers reach the island platform (on right) by a pedestrian footbridge.

In addition to the basic configuration of a railway station, various features set certain types of station apart. The first is the level of the tracks. Stations are often sited where a road crosses the railway: unless the crossing is a level crossing, the road and railway will be at different levels. The platforms will often be raised or lowered relative to the station entrance: the station buildings may be on either level, or both. The other arrangement, where the station entrance and platforms are on the same level, is also common, but is perhaps rarer in urban areas, except when the station is a terminus. Elevated stations are more common, not including metro stations. Stations located at level crossings can be problematic if the train blocks the roadway while it stops, causing drivers to wait for an extended period of time.

An unusual configuration is where the station serves railway lines at differing levels. This may be due to the station's situation at a point where two lines cross, or may be to provide separate station capacity for two types of service, e.g. intercity and suburban, or simply two different destinations.

Stations may also be classified on the layout of the platforms. Apart from single-track lines, the most basic arrangement is a pair of railway tracks for the two directions; but even there there is a basic choice of an island platform between the tracks, or two separate platforms outside the tracks. With more tracks, the possibilities expand.

Some stations have unusual platform layouts, due to space constraints of the station location, or the alignment of the railway lines. Examples include non-parallel platforms and curved stations (and platforms).

Accessibility

Accessibility for people with disabilities is important in station design and mandated by law in some countries. Considerations include: elevator or ramp access to all platforms, matching platform height to train floors, making wheelchair lifts available when platforms do not match vehicle floors, accessible toilets and pay phones, audible station announcements, safety measures such as tactile marking of platform edges and covering of third rail.

References

External links

* http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2032338,00.html Europe's largest train station
* http://members.aol.com/Zacarious1/his.italy.html Italian railway stations
* http://www.mulehouse.demon.co.uk/stations/ Photos of British & Irish railway stations
* http://www.railwaystation.com/ RailwayStation.com
* http://www.swissinfo.org/eng/swissinfo.html?siteSect=105&sid=5050460 Swiss railway stations
* http://www.360360.com/stations.html Virtual tour of train stations from USA and Canada

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