Designing a Railway Station

A railway station is an imposing structure that gathers in one place a wide variety of activities and services. The most common functions are ticket offices, information enquiry points, toilets and waiting areas – or at least decently sheltered open spaces to wait in (see the picture above). Larger stations might also have food outlets, shops, hotels or car parks.

The design of a railway station should balance the needs of all users. It should provide efficient movement flows and safe interfaces during normal operation and in times of emergency like security alerts or evacuation. It should also address negative effects caused by the transport infrastructure itself on its surroundings.

It is also important that a station offers a range of cultural and commercial outlets. This helps to make the station more attractive for the community and contributes to its economic viability. However, these outlets must not restrict walkways through the station or obstruct exits, escalators and lifts. They must also be designed to meet the requirements for fire and safety protection and to allow access by staff for cleaning, maintenance and repairs. The leases for the retail spaces must also require tenants to meet the railway’s fire and safety standards.

The design of the building itself is a matter of taste and budget, but it must be designed in a way that it clearly distinguishes between incoming and outgoing passenger flows. In addition, it must be a focal point in its urban environment and reflect its local architectural tradition.

An example of this is the Mumbai Central Station, which blends Indian and British architectural traditions in its design. Its turrets, dome and intricate ornamentation are reminiscent of Moghul and Hindu palaces. It has become a landmark and a vital resource for the three million passengers that use it daily.

While most stations are built in a standard design, there are some very unique and beautiful examples of station architecture around the world. Many of them are listed as cultural heritage sites and some are even open to the public for tours.