Railway stations are hubs of activity that stimulate commerce and create a sense of community. They are one of the most important elements of a city, providing transportation connections for people and goods, and ensuring environmental protection.
A railway station is the area where trains merge and diverge, where passengers board and disembark, and where other activities such as freight loading, unloading, train formation, and maintenance are carried out. It is also where a range of services are provided, such as ticket sales, taxi service, police stations, train inquiry offices, and help desks.
The layout of a railway station depends on the design requirements and limitations. Its layout can also be determined by the type of rail track it has, such as main line, siding, or a loop.
Commonly, a railway station has single-level platforms, though this can vary depending on the location and alignment of the tracks. There are some unusual station layouts, such as staggered stations and curved platforms.
Platforms in a railway station are typically used to provide passenger access to local trains, regional trains, and long-distance trains. A station’s platform may also include waiting spaces and shelters for passengers while they wait to board a train.
A railway station may have multiple entrances, some of which are accessed by walking or taking a short escalator ride. This enables easy transfer of passengers to different transport modes, especially for people with limited mobility or who require wheelchair assistance.
Stations may also have several levels of access, with some having more than one level or staircases to reach different parts of the station. This is called a multi-level station, and is common in European cities.
If a station has several levels of access, it should be designed so that people can travel between them safely and without disruption to other passengers. The simplest way to achieve this is to use a grade separated passage, which provides safe and comfortable access to each level.
The entrance to the station should be clearly marked so that passengers can be quickly orientated and to ensure that they can easily find their way around the station. This is essential for a functional station, as it minimises the length of time that passengers must wait for transfers.
Passengers who are disabled or elderly should be given special consideration in station design. They should be given pick-up and drop zones, ramps at level changes, and two-foot warning strips with small bumps to prevent them from falling onto the tracks.
In some cases, a station will have multiple levels of access, for example if it is on a steep hill or near a lake. The stairways should be sloped so that people with limited mobility can get up and down them without difficulty, and the walkways should be wide enough for a person to walk in and out of them.
A railway station should be able to accommodate different types of passenger transport, including local buses, commuter trains, long-distance express and metro services, and private cars. This is usually done by dividing the area into different areas for set down and pick up, such as bus stops / terminal, bicycle/motorcycle parking, taxi rank, set-up point for private cars, parking and foot paths.