The Public Space of a Railway Station

A railway station is a transport infrastructure that consists of a number of platforms where trains stop to let passengers on or off. It is also a place where people can make connections between trains and buses or trams. Traditionally, many train stations have been dual-purpose and included both passenger and freight facilities. However, with the advent of high-speed rail lines that can cover long distances in a short time, there is a trend towards creating stations that are dedicated to passenger services only, such as those on the Shinkansen in Japan, the THSR in Taiwan or the TGV line in France. These are usually large and modern, with a design that has more in common with airports than with traditional railway station architecture.

It is important for the design of railway stations to take into account their dual character as both a node of networks and a public space in the urban environment (Bertolini & Spit, 1998). In order to guarantee integration between transport networks and the physical urban fabric it is crucial that the needs of both users and local businesses and services are met. This can be done by integrating station proximity services, creating new opportunities for commercial activity at the station and by providing adequate public facilities.

The railway station as a public space is becoming increasingly important, with the rise of social mobility, which brings with it the need for public places that facilitate interconnectivity and the possibility to meet up with others. The station is the ideal place to offer these opportunities, as it has an enormous potential for connecting different parts of a city and for facilitating social interaction between people.

In addition to the fact that it is a public space, a railway station can also act as a catalyst for change and can provide a platform for introducing new urban concepts and models. However, in order to achieve this, it is necessary to remove barriers that prevent the full development of its potential. These barriers can be found in various areas, ranging from technical problems to political issues.

This article aims to identify these obstacles and proposes some solutions to overcome them. To do so, we will use stakeholder theories as a starting point. This approach will allow us to discover the value that a station creates for different stakeholders and to align their interests. In this way, we can unlock the full potential of railway stations as promoters of sustainable mobility and sustainable cities.

A railway station is an essential part of a railway network and is the mandatory interface between passengers and the boarding trains. A well designed station can help to limit the length of boarding journeys, increase accessibility and improve safety. In order to do so, it must be logically organised and offer a range of public facilities that are easy to find. It is also important to consider how a railway station can contribute to the city’s sustainability goals, such as through energy supply or waste management.