A railway station is a place where trains stop to embark and disembark passengers. It is a transport hub and can also be a tourist destination, especially when well designed.
A good railway station is a complex of buildings and functions that link together to create a comfortable and safe environment for all passengers, as well as providing a variety of services for the people who live nearby. A well-designed station will provide the best possible travel experience to its users, but it must also be attractive and interesting.
The design of a railway station can be quite simple or extremely complicated, depending on the type and location of its platforms. Platforms may be elevated above the railway tracks, or they may be at the same level as the station entrance. A station may also be at a level crossing, with the road and railway at different levels.
Some stations are designed to be functional and practical, while others are simply beautiful. For instance, London’s St Pancras station has a fascinating Victorian Gothic Revival style. The building was originally built on the site of a notorious slum called Agar Town, and its unique architecture earned it the title ‘cathedral of the railways’.
Another example of a station that is both modern and nostalgic can be found at Antwerpen-Centraal, the oldest train station in Europe. It is a solid and imposing building, combining elements of both the past and the future in a way that evokes the golden age of rail travel.
Many of the world’s most striking railway stations are masterpieces of architecture that combine function and imagination. They are landmarks of their cities, becoming destinations in themselves and serving as a gateway to the city.
They also serve as cultural centres, displaying artwork, hosting events and exhibitions. Examples include Grand Central in New York, Chicago’s Union Station and Los Angeles’s Union Station.
A railway station should be designed to maximise the use of space for both fast and slow passengers, with a range of waiting areas for various uses including pedestrian zones for slow and fast passengers, seating, shelters, and transport information. A railway station should also have a wide range of facilities, such as ticket sales offices, automatic ticket machines, shops and eateries, kiosks, toilets, left-luggage, lost-and-found, traffic information, waiting rooms, taxi ranks and bus bays.
Those who are familiar with the station should be able to find their way around easily and efficiently. The main entry points should be clearly marked with signs and signals, and the station should have sufficient parking spaces for all the trains that use it.
The layout of the track at a station must be carefully considered to avoid delays, which can have a negative impact on both passengers and the local economy. This includes the provision of two-way signal systems and other telecommunications facilities. A railway station should also be designed to handle an overflow of passengers, and this can be addressed using a system called an escape depot.