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Last edited 12 Mar 2020
A railway is an establishment with platforms and associated buildings for a trains to pick up and put down passengers. The railway station is one of the most famous creations of the industrial revolution, and railway transport has become vital for the transportation of goods and people.
The invention of railway transport brought with it a new type of architecture that demanded new design considerations, solutions and components. The efficient design of the railway station should create a homogeneous structure and a logical flow of passengers that allow easy, seamless, secure and safe flow to get to trains, wait and change to other modes of transport.
 Types of railway station
Railway stations can be classified according to their:
- Territorial size.
- Geographic location (sub-urban, city access, city centre).
- Frequency of use:
- Type 1 > 50,000 incoming passengers/day (very large stations).
- Type 2 > 30,000 incoming passengers/day (large stations).
- Type 3: 10,000 – 30,000 incoming passengers/day (medium stations).
- Type 4 < 10,000 incoming passengers/day (small stations).
- Long-distance traffic.
- Long-distance and regional traffic.
- High regional traffic.
- Medium regional traffic.
- Low regional traffic.
The station is an entire area that includes station buildings and other facilities. The station area should be marked by a main entrance as the focal point in order to facilitate orientation and tie functions together.
A logically organised station limits how long passengers have to wait for transfer. The station should be easy to understand and quick to orient. Walking times to platforms can be minimised by the installation of grade separated passages.
There should be a strong relationship between the station’s physical structures, and its activities and services. A well-designed functional station typically comprises multiple building blocks linked together to form a single working environment.
The essential task of zoning is to create a logical pattern of movement for different types of passengers, such as those that are familiar with the station environment and those that are not.
There are typically four main zones:
- Arrival zone.
- Service zone.
- Communication zone.
 Arrival zone
This is the external area where a station and its surrounding environments meet. This is a zone of setting down and picking up passengers. It typically consists of bus stops / bus terminal, bicycle/motorcycle parking, taxi rank, set up and pick up point for private cars, parking and foot paths. It can also include road service traffic to the platforms and trains.
Set down and pick up zones for different modes of transport might be on both sides of the station with the main side being on a bus stop, followed by the side with car parks. These subdivisions can enhance the integration of different transport modes even in congested urban districts; they enable easy traffic and movement patterns around the station environments.
Services fall into two categories; those that directly relate to the journey and those that are not necessary.
The main services are; ticket sales, ticket machines, information desks, traffic information, toilets, and waiting areas. Other functions are; luggage storage, kiosks, eateries, cash machines, bureau de change, car parking, hotels, and shops.
The main service functions are generally placed next to the main corridors and intersections. The other less important functions can be placed on other pass-ways at the station. In larger stations, commercial, cultural and other types of services may be integrated together.
 Communication zone
A communication area links set-down/pick-up zones with platforms usually through the service area. It helps to enhance the functional performance of the station through well designed accessible lifts, escalators, stairways, bridges, underpasses and so on. A communication area should be visually clear, well demarcated, will lit and with a shallow grade for all passenger groups to use.
Platforms enable passengers to board and disembark from local trains, regional trains and long-distance trains and in certain instances the platform can allow for changes from trains to bus or tram.
Waiting spaces should be provided on the platforms. Platforms should also be sheltered to promote comfort while waiting. Platform zones can be categorised into pedestrian zones for both slow and fast passengers, seating, shelters and transport information.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- BIM Development for the Crossrail Farringdon Station.
- Budding Brunels Rail project.
- Crossrail station designs.
- England's Railway Heritage from the Air.
- Kaohsiung Station, Taiwan.
- King’s Cross Station Redevelopment.
- Masaryk Railway Station regeneration.
- Railway engineering.
- Slough Bus Station.
- South Kensington Station Development.
- The longest railway tunnels in the world.
- Types of building.
- Vienna Central Station.
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