What Is a Railway Station?

railway station

A railway station is the transport hub for rail routes, where passengers can board trains and goods are loaded and unloaded. The station houses train platforms, ticket booths, ticket machines, information desks, shops and bars in some countries.

A station is a place where trains can stop to merge or diverge, to unload or load freight, to change locomotives and to provide services such as a waiting room, toilets, and taxi ranks. Despite being a crowded and busy space, stations are important for providing a safe and convenient transit experience.

The busiest railway station in the world is Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan, where trains carry over 3.6 million people a day. It also serves as a hub for many other lines including commuter, inter-city and metro services.

Other large stations include Paris’s Gare du Nord, the world’s largest in terms of passenger capacity and a renowned landmark. It is served by SNCF, Eurostar and Thalys.

Another station that is popular with travelers is Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which was designed by Frederick William Stevens and is renowned for its gothic style. It is also the site of one of the 2008 Academy Award winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.

Some railway stations have unusual platform layouts due to space constraints or the alignment of tracks, such as a staggered station or a curved station. For example, Cheadle Hulme railway station on the Macclesfield to Manchester Line has curved platforms.

Occasionally, there are dual-purpose stations (also called junctions or interchanges) that serve both lines at the same level. These are usually located at a major intersection, such as a city centre railway station, where two lines meet and cross each other. These often have a separate goods shed or siding for loading and unloading trains.

Terminals are a type of railway station that is used for both passenger and freight traffic. These are usually located at a major intercity railroad station and have separate terminal sheds and loading yards for both types of traffic. They are also used for passenger transfer from one line to the other, such as a suburban line to an intercity line or a commuter rail line to an intercity line.

The oldest station in the world still in use as a passenger station is Liverpool’s Broad Green railway station, which opened in 1830. It is a fine example of the first railway terminals to have a train shed, which were common at that time.

There are a number of different ways to design a railway station, which can vary in size and complexity. Some are simple, such as the example shown below, while others are complex with multiple tracks and many platforms. Some stations can be used to connect several different routes to each other, such as London’s St Pancras Railway and Madrid’s La Corua.

A railway station can be built to operate as both a terminus and a roro-station at the same time, using the difficulty option “At end of lines and at stations”. This can work well for high traffic lines or when there isn’t much space available for a roro-station.