Stations are the places where trains stop to collect and deposit passengers.  Since the station is the first point of contact most passengers have with the railway, it should be regarded as the "shop window" for the services provided.  It should therefore be well designed, pleasing to the eye (Figure 1), comfortable and convenient for the passenger as well as efficient in layout and operation.  Stations must be properly managed and maintained and must be operated safely.

Airport, harbours and stations form interfaces within modes and between multiple modes, providing both intermodal and intramodal connectivity. However, a more in depth analysis reveals that such facilities have functions that go beyond their role of links in a transport chain. This page looks at some of the issues that arise from the need to satisfy a multitude of requirements, focusing on passenger transport. Parts of this page were adapted from an article by the author and F Schmid of the University of Birmingham. 

Figure 1: Rebuilt station at Liège-Guillemins, Belgium, designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava in 2008 and demonstrating the beacon effect. Photo by Le Cointois.

A Beacon for the Area

Railway stations in city environments, with other major structures in close proximity and often surrounded by large, visually and commercially attractive corporate buildings, have to stand out as beacons for the community and the city. They must be eye-catching, built to high standards and they must attract passengers to the railway. Good examples are Berlin Hauptbahnhof in Germany, Lille Europe in France, Liège-Guillemins in Belgium (Figure 1),  Bejing South Station in China and the Canary Wharf station of Crossrail and the renovated St. Pancras in London. However, while a station might have an important function as a beacon, it must still be designed to meet the needs of the railway, of the people using it and of the staff running it. 

A station is a transport hub, by definition. Even the most humble stop in a tramway network allows interchange between movement on foot and travel by tram. Railway stations thus represent focal points for journey mode changes, places that travellers require for business, commuting and leisure travel. They arrive on foot, by bicycle, car, taxi, bus, coach, tram and metro, and they carry luggage ranging from a small computer bag to a pair of cases each the size of steamer trunks, so they must be able to find the station easily and they must have good access to the facilities and the trains. The station must be designed to allow easy modal changes and to provide a simple approach from within the cityscape. 


One of the most important requirements of any station is that of accommodating circulation (Figure 2). This relates to movements of trains as well as those of passengers with their luggage and other people such as ‘weepers and greeters’. The station also must create a safe interface between the two types of traffic. It is essential that the people movement flows in a station are designed carefully, both during normal operation and during emergencies like security alerts and evacuation. Signage and sightlines form an important part of maintaining efficient flows for passengers, while effective railway control allows trains to arrive in and depart from stations with minimum delay.

Figure 2: The main passenger concourse at Liverpool Street station in London. The lower floor provides access to trains and travel facilities with interchanges with the Underground, while the upper balcony has retail facilities. The main train describer panel is in a good position to allow it to be seen by the maximum number of people. Source unknown.

Interchange Role

Intermodal changes also need careful evaluation, so that passengers arriving by road can access the station facilities easily and without obstructing waiting areas, or exits. Equally, ticket offices and machines need to be positioned and provided in sufficient numbers so that users can queue and access the facility without obstruction and without resulting in shuffling lines of stressed travellers blocking the station’s pedestrian and vehicle routes.

Mixing types of passengers can cause congestion and frustration. At St Pancras International station in London, arriving international train passengers merge into the local commuter crowds flowing towards the Underground station interchange. At peak times, this creates a mix of slow and fast moving pedestrians in a narrow space obstructed with pillars, lifts and greeters.

Private car access is often an issue at stations. Drivers meeting trains can cause congestion if a suitable short term parking area is not provided. People do not want to pay exorbitant parking charges just to meet relatives and friends who have chosen to come by train. Such charges can discourage train travel.

Passengers arrive and leave by train but almost universally, they change their mode of transportation at the station . It may be from train to train, or from train to any other movement mode, from foot to bus, taxi, car, bicycle or metro. The Kings Cross and St Pancras stations complex gives a good example of the variety of modal changes possible and the good and bad features of all of them. 

First, we should realise that the area covered by the combination of the stations of St. Pancras and Kings Cross is vast. It takes ten minutes to walk directly from one side to the other. Clearly thought out routes are essential for arriving and departing passengers. Secondly, the whole complex has been rebuilt and updated, as far as is possible within the considerable restrictions imposed by English Heritage, a body that has been described as a willful inhibitor of the modernisation of Britain’s infrastructure. The rebuilding is complete yet the Kings Cross side of the project suffers from poor interchange facilities because passengers gravitate towards the completed and improved St Pancras International station. So, what is wrong with the facilities provided?

Looking at facilities for cyclists first, these are provided but they are a long way from the station, sharing space with a car park north of the St Pancras station complex. The premises are secure but a casual user would be pushed to find the cycle storage area unless they had done their research first. Other countries do it better (Figure 3.)

Figure 3: Dutch station cycle point with secure, automated, smart card storage, CCTV and a cycle shop. The system is provided at over 40 stations in the Netherlands. Photo: F. Schmid.

Car and taxi pick up and drop off points are provided, of course, but it is not always clear where taxis are supposed to stop and there are different locations around the complex. There’s nowhere for cars to wait to ease picking up duties. Confusingly, the Network Rail description of the available facilities does not align with what is on the ground. 

Buses have a total of nine different locations for access around King’s Cross and St. Pancras, scattered across the roads around the complex, some of which are best accessed by using the subways intended for users of the Underground station. The access route for the Underground is split, with two connections from the St Pancras side and one from Kings Cross.

Cost of Time

Passengers value time and the time they spend on different parts of a journey can be aggregated by calculating the ‘generalised cost’ of the journey, usually not in money terms but in total minutes – a reflection of the fact that people’s wallets may be unlimited but not their lifespans. Different parts of the journey are weighted according to how they are perceived by the passenger so that, for example, time spent on the train is weighted at one, while time spent waiting for a train is multiplied by a factor of two. In a station, the activity of changing between trains can have a generalised cost of up to 30 minutes, e.g., when people are forced to climb stairs. In reality, the time taken may be much shorter. It just depends on how efficient and convenient it is and how the situation is perceived by passengers.

Station Design

The design of stations has developed over the years as the use of railways has expanded.  A new form of station design has also evolved with the introduction of metros and high capacity urban railways.  A number of different types of station design are shown here and the advantages and disadvantages of each are discussed.

On a railway which requires passengers to be in possession of a valid ticket or "authority to travel" whilst on the property, the station area is divided into an "unpaid area" and a "paid area", to denote the parts where passengers should be in possession of a valid ticket.  Of course, there are now many railway operators who have "open stations", which allow passenger to wander at will without a ticket.  In these circumstances, in addition to a ticket office or ticket selling machines, tickets can be purchased on the train.

Side Platform Station

Figure 4: This photo shows the basic station design used for a double track railway line with two platforms, one for each direction of travel. The passenger means of crossing the line is a level walkway across the two tracks. This is a rural station in Vila Real, Portugal. In an urban context, a footbridge would be provided for passenger crossing. Photo: Author.

In a traditional two-track side platforms station, each platform has a ticket office and other passenger facilities such as toilets and perhaps a refreshment or other concession.  Where there is a high frequency service or for designs with high platforms, the two platforms are usually connected by a footbridge.  In the case of a station where tickets are required to allow passengers to reach the platform, a "barrier" or, in the case of a metro with automatic fare collection, a "gate line", is provided to divide the "paid area" and "unpaid area".This design allows equal access for passengers approaching from either side of the station but it does require the provision of two ticket offices and therefore staffing for both of them.  Sometimes, stations with two ticket offices will man only one full time.  The other will be manned as required at peak times.

Island Platform Station

Figure 5: Bethseda station on the Washington D.C. metro showing the layout for an island platform with a track for each direction on either side. This can often be a cheaper form of construction than a side platform arrangement. The architecture of the Washington metro is nororiously minimalist and gloomy and has not worn well with age. Photo: Author.

A cheaper form of station construction, at least for a railway at grade level, is the island platform (Figure 5).  As its name suggests, this is a single platform serving two tracks passing on either side, effectively creating an island which can only be accessed by crossing a track.  A bridge or underpass is usually provided.  Island platforms are usually wider than single platforms used for side platform stations but they still require less area.  In the example shown above, there are two ticket offices, but one can be provided if preferred.  Island platforms on elevated railways do require additional construction of the viaduct structure (usually adding considerably to the costs) to accommodate the curves in the tracks needed to separate them on the approach to the platform.

Elevated Stations

Elevated railways are still popular in cities, despite their history of noise creation and generally unfriendly environmental image.  The poor image has been considerably reduced with modern techniques of sound reduction and the use of reinforced and pre-stressed concrete structures.  They are considerably cheaper than underground railways (at least half the price, sometimes considerably less than that) and can be operated with reduced risk of safety and evacuation problems.  Modern elevated railways have been built in such cities as Dubai, Bangkok, Manila, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. 

Figure 6: A 5-minute You Tube video showing the construction phases of the elevated Taman Tun Dr. Ismail MRT Station in Malaysia

Station and Crossing Safety

There are two differing views about passenger safety at stations which have dictated station design for the last 150 years or more.  For most of the world, it has been assumed that passengers (and other members of the public) will take care of their own safety when walking on or near a railway.  Because of this, it is not considered necessary to segregate passengers from trains.   Passengers will look out for passing trains when crossing tracks and will take care not to leave luggage, children, cars or anything else which could damage or be damaged by a train.  Station design has reflected this so that platforms were often not raised very much above rail level.  Passengers were forced to climb up to trains, usually with the help of a plentiful staff and portable steps carried on vehicles.  Passengers were free to wander across tracks, usually at walkways specially provided for them and any road vehicles which needed to cross the line.  Railways were not fenced.  Only at terminals and very busy stations was any attempt at segregation made.

In the UK, railways were always fenced and passengers and the public were invariably kept away from the tracks as far as possible.  Platforms were built to a level which allowed a reasonable step up into a train without help and bridges or underground passages (called "subways" in the UK) were provided to allow people to cross the line unhindered by the movement of trains.  The high platform also permitted quicker loading and inloading of trains.

In the US, the rise in the popularity and numbers of automobiles was matched by a decline in the use of railroads.  The decline in the use of railroads meant there was also a decline in the awareness of the public of the nature of railroads or of the power and speed of trains and the distances they required to stop.  The result has been an increase in the number of crossing accidents, where cars or trucks have been hit by trains.  There have also been incidents where passengers have been struck by passing trains while crossing the tracks to reach a station exit.


The term platform is worth explaining.  In the US, the position of a train in a station is referred to as the "track", as in "The train for San Diego is on Track 9".   This is very logical as the raised portion of the ground next to the track is actually the platform and may well be used by passengers boarding a train on a track along the opposite edge of the platform.  For this reason, the British way of referring to the "Train at Platform 4", referring to the platform "face", sometimes confuses foreign visitors, who see two trains, one on each side of the platform.

It is a feature of station design in the UK and railways designed to UK standards, that platforms are built to the height of the train floor, or close to it.  This is now also adopted as standard on metro railways throughout the world.  The rest of the world has generally had a train/station interface designed on the basis that the passengers step up into the train from a low level platform or even straight off the ground.  To this end, passenger vehicles were usually designed with end entrances, having the floor narrower then the rest of the car body so that a set of steps could be fitted to either side of the entrance gangway.  However, high platforms are now seen in many countries around the world.

Platform width is also an important feature of station design.  The width must be sufficient to accommodate the largest numbers of passengers expected but must not be wasteful of space - always at a premium for station areas in expensive land districts of a city.  The platform should be designed to give free visual areas along its length so that passengers can read signs and staff can ensure safety when dispatching trains.  Columns supporting structures (photo) can often seriously affect the operation of a station by reducing circulating areas and passenger flows at busy times.  Platform edges should be straight to assist operations by allowing clear sight lines. 

Facilities at Stations

Passenger and other users’ facilities must be an integral part of station design, aligned with the size and importance of the hub as a whole. Apart from pedestrian routes designed to separate incoming and outgoing flows and areas for general circulation and waiting, there must be a structured approach to establishing the correct location of station facilities and the routes leading to these.. Aside from the ticketing facilities mentioned above, there is normally a need for information enquiry points, toilets and waiting rooms – or at least decently sheltered open areas – for departing passengers awaiting trains. Nowadays, in the UK, the tendency is to limit well provided waiting lounges to premium passengers paying first class fares, while other passengers are expected to remain in the general circulating areas or to use the coffee shops scattered around larger stations. 

Figure 7: The imposing station facade of the Beijing high speed station. Photo: F Schmid.

Entrances and Exits

Station entrances and exits must be designed to allow for the numbers of passengers passing through them, both under normal and emergency conditions.  Specific emergency exit requirements are outlined in many countries as part of safety legislation or to standards set down by the railways or other organisations.  The codes in NFPA 130 (the US standard for their transit industry) are one such instance.  These codes usually define the exit flows and the types of exits allowed for, e.g. the different rates for passages, stairways and escalators.

Whatever the codes define, the entrances to a station must be welcoming to the prospective passenger.  Stations must also have sufficient entrances to cater for the different sides of the railway route but the number must also take into account the cost effectiveness of each entrance.  The cost of staffing ticket offices can be very considerable and the numbers of ticket offices must be managed to suit the patronage offering.

Consideration must be paid to issues like which way doors open.  On the Paris Metro in 1918, a crown panicked near Bolivar station during an air raid on the city and 66 people were killed in a crush trying to get into the station for shelter.  The obstacle that triggered the crush was a set of doors that only opened outwards -- normally the right direction for safety, but not when the crowd is trying to rush in.  Subsequently it became Metro policy that all doors had to open both ways.

Passenger Information

Click for full size Information systems (photo left) on stations are variously referred to as a Passenger Information System (sometimes referred to as PIS) or Passenger Information Display (PID).  Professional railway staff often refer to them as Train Describers.  Whatever it is called, there must be a reliable way of informing the passengers where the trains are going.  Passenger information systems are essential for any railway.  One of the most common complaints by passengers on railways is the lack of up to date and accurate information.  When asking the staff for information, passengers expect an accurate and courteous response with the latest data.  There is nothing worse than the "your guess is as good as mine" response when a member of staff is asked what is happening when a train is delayed or has not appeared on time.  This means that staff must have access to the latest information and they must be trained to use it properly and to pass it on to passengers.  

Figure 8: A simple train describer on the Vienna U Bahn showing only the final destination of the train and the number of minutes until the train arrives. This type of display can be difficult to see in bright sunlight. Photo: Author.

Information displays mounted in public areas must be visible in all weather conditions (noting that some electronic displays are very difficult to see in sunlight conditions) and be updated regularly with accurate information.  There are two types of information - constant and instant.  Constant information can be described as that which describes the services and fares available and which changes only a few times a year or less.  This information can be displayed on posters and fixed notices.  There also might be special offers which can be posted from time to time.  Instant information is that which changes daily or minute by minute.  This is better displayed electronically or mechanically - both systems can be seen around the world. 

For instant systems, it can be assumed that railway passengers require to know:

  • The time now;
  • The destination and expected time of arrival of the next train;
  • The stations served by this train;
  • Major connections requiring boarding of this train;
  • The position of their coach - if travelling with a reserved place;
  • Where the train will stop - for variable length trains and
  • Other destinations served from this station and from which platform.

A good example of passenger information displays can be seen on some Paris (France) RER stations.  A large illuminated board is hung over the platform and all the stations served by the train approaching are shown by lamps lit next to the station name.  The time now and the train length is also shown. Although the system is not now modern, it is very effective.

There are some information systems appearing with advertising in some form or other.  This is a useful source of revenue or sponsorship but it must not be allowed to detract from the main aim of providing the passenger with train service information.

Some modernised lines are nowadays provided with bi-directional signalling.  This allows trains to travel along either line at normal speeds and be fully under the control of fixed signals.  This is a useful facility to have when engineering works have made one track unusable.  Trains operating in either direction will then use the other track(s).  For passenger information purposes, bi-directional signalling makes it necessary to have good and easily variable passenger information displays.

Smart Stations

WiFi facilities should be available on the station for passengers and staff. There are a wide range of systems and facilities that can be used to manage stations and their systems and to provide information to passengers and staff. Open access data is sometimes offered by operators that allow apps to be designed and distributed to allow public access to train information (Figure 9). These systems should be available to staff at all times. It does not look good for passengers to be better informed about the train service than the staff who are supposed to be controlling it.

Figure 9: An example of a smart phone screen shot showing real time train times at a major station in London. Such applications are widely available in many countries where train service operatrors provide open architecture software.


For a long time the provision of toilets on railway premises has been the subject of criticism and debate, both in the industry and amongst passengers.  Passengers expect to be provided with facilities and complain loudly when they are not.  On the other hand, public toilets are regularly abused and vandalised in many countries and railway administrations end up paying large amounts to maintain and repair them.  They can also often be used for illegal activities, such as drug related offences, sexual activities and for robberies.  Some railways, especially those in big cities, have, for many years, tried to close most of station toilets because of the cost of keeping them in a reasonable condition and because of the difficulties in policing them. The result has been an increase in the number of passengers relieving themselves in the public and sometimes in the prohibited areas of the railway, including cases where they have wandered onto the track and got themselves killed by passing trains. At the very least, these activities cause an odour and health risk nuisance. 

Any railway operators responsible for stations will have to decide whether they are prepared to pay for the installation of toilets and, if they do so decide, they must be prepared for the management and maintenance of such facilities.  Nowadays, it is considered good marketing to provide good restroom, baby changing and toilet facilities.  They will not be cheap to provide and they will require regular inspections to ensure the safety and cleanliness of the premises.  In spite of all the difficulties, toilets must be considered a requirement, if for no other reason than the public expect them.  If they are installed, they must be designed to a high standard and then kept spotlessly clean throughout the day.

Retail Outlets

Concessions for retail outlets on railway premises can be a lucrative source of income for a railway and the opportunity to provide for them should be taken wherever possible.  The normal types of concessions are coffee shops, refreshment counters and small lunch rooms, plus pharmacies, dry cleaners, newspaper shops and flower shops.  Some larger stations are able to provide space for so many shops that they are almost shopping malls in their own right.  This is good for the railway, since it attracts customers and it provides a sense of community which would otherwise be lacking.  There should, however, be limits as to what can be done and proper design in the first place and subsequent good estate management are both required to permit railway operations to continue unhindered and with safety (Figure 10).

Shops should not be allowed to sell dangerous goods and may be restricted in the sale of tobacco products if the railway has a no smoking policy.  Some operators have excluded the sale of food within their property because they have a no eating/drinking policy.  Other railways regard food/beverage sales as an important part of the marketing strategy and positively encourage restaurants to take leases on stations.  Food outlets must not be allowed to generate a rubbish or vermin problem.

At least, operators must prevent shops from allowing passages to become obstructed with sales equipment and they must ensure that they conform to the railway's safety requirements in cooking and similar activities.  Leases for shops should detail all the exclusions required and lay out clearly the safety, evacuation and training requirements for concession staff.

Station owners and architects are always looking for ways to develop the commercial possibilities of the station and its environs. Good retail outlets of the right type can add a useful source of income for the station owners or operators and they help to provide a sense of community and interest within the station and its surroundings. They also provide an extra presence within the station that reduces the opportunities for crime and vandalism and instills in passengers a better sense of security.

Figure 10: The undercroft of the restored St Pancras station in London. The main access area is lined by retail outlets. Trains are on the upper level. At peak times the interaction between international passengers and commuters using this area causes some congestion. Strict constraints were imposed by the preservationists from English Heritage that considerably increased the time and cost to rebuild the station and prevented some much needed operational improvements. Photo: Author.

Care must be taken to choose the right kinds of shops and to ensure that the sales and services are appropriate for the station context. Thus, on a railway that suffers from alcohol related excesses, it may not be sensible to allow alcohol to be sold and it might be unwise, from a security standpoint, to accept a lease offer from a retailer selling military memorabilia in a gift shop. Fast food shops may also not be desirable because they create the potential for vast quantities of litter. 

The usual outlets seen on stations are cafes, sandwich shops, newspaper stalls, bookshops, florists and gift shops. Dry cleaners and shoe repairers are also popular. Larger stations often have room for fashion outlets. In almost all cases, it is important that the shop fronts are obvious to customers but, at the same time, they must not restrict walkways through the station or obstruct exits, escalators and lifts. Leases must also include a requirement for retailers to meet the railway’s fire and safety protection requirements and that staff are properly trained for alarms, evacuation and emergencies. It is essential that station managers regularly inspect retail premises to ensure that they comply with their lease obligations.

The location of retail premises and their proportion in relation to the station size and shape must be designed in at the very earliest stages of the station planning process. They must not be allowed to fill space that is needed for passenger movement or waiting. For many years, Waterloo Station in London had some large retail units spread along the main concourse area. These provided a very good utility for the shoppers but they prevented passengers from moving around freely, obstructed the view of the large train describer systems and caused serious overcrowding problems whenever services were disrupted. As a consequence of ever increasing passenger numbers, the retail units had to be removed to recreate the necessary circulating space. Happily, the visual impact and station sightlines of the whole concourse area have been hugely improved as a result.

Lifts and Escalators

Vertical transportation at stations in city environments and on urban railways is almost as important as the horizontal transportation provided by the trains.  Any station not easily accessible on the surface and which requires stairs, will nowadays, require lifts for the disabled.  Stations with a height difference between levels of more than 4 to 5 metres (13-18 feet) will probably need escalators as well - certainly in the up direction.  Escalators (Figure 11) are essential in areas of stations where large volumes of passengers need to change levels and their location and orientation must be carefully thought through. Escalators are expensive, so the number of passengers using the facility must be at a sufficient level to make them worthwhile.  Both lifts and escalators are high cost maintenance items and need to be kept in good condition.  They require mandatory regular safety inspections.

Figure 11: A bank of five escalators at Canary Wharf Underground station in London. There is a similar facility at the other end of the station. Photo: K. Rennie.

The siting of lifts and escalators is important.  Passengers have to queue to board them so there must be space at the boarding point to accommodate a large number of people at busy times.  Such areas must be kept free of obstructions and not be too close to platform edges.  The number of stairways and escalators must be sufficient to allow a trainload of alighting passengers to clear a platform before the next trainload arrives.  This may seem obvious, but it isn't always done.  Most countries require an evacuation standard to be applied to the number and location of stairs and escalators.  This enables the station to be cleared safely in the minimum time.

One other point to note.  Escalators in the railway environment usually get a lot more use than those you see in department stores.  A railway which buys a standard department store design escalator may find it will quickly wear out and will need constant repairs.  A more robust design may be a better life cycle cost solution.


We must not forget that a large station involves a wide and complex communications network, including telephone, radio, CCTV, public address, train arrival and departure displays, news media, WiFi and both fixed and variable direction signs. In performance terms, reliable communications are an essential feature of a station, under both normal and emergency conditions (Figure 5). Large steel structures, such as station roofs can form a considerable obstruction to a communications network if the propagation of electromagnetic waves has not been allowed for in the design. The use of specialist communications systems by emergency services must also be addressed in the design of the facilities. Power supplies for all these systems must be secure and reliable. 


Maintenance of both the fabric and equipment of the station must not be neglected at the design stage. Apart from the usual requirements for waste disposal and the provision of robust surfaces that make for easy cleaning, pity such visitors as the window cleaner, who may be required to reach large and very tall structures. Safe access for cleaning and glazing replacement must be built into the design. Remember too, that escalators and lifts may have to be withdrawn from service for maintenance or renewal, so additional facilities must be available under these conditions.


We should not forget that a station has to have trains in it. Careful planning is essential to get the right layout to accommodate the type and volume of trains expected. With a design life of at least 60 years, the layout must be flexible and must allow for future expansion. The folly of providing only four platforms for the Midland Main Line at St Pancras is already apparent and the restriction on the capacity here will become worse when the line is eventually electrified throughout.

The type of service provided will affect capacity at stations. At a through station with a mix of local and commuter services, combined with long distance trains, the layout of the station needs to combine efficient train movements and the shortest unconstrained passenger flows possible through the facilities and to and from the modal change areas.

At a terminus, turnround time is important. For commuter type trains, it is reasonable to expect a train to be ‘turned round’ or reversed in 10 minutes but this time will double for a long distance train needing re-supplying with food, drink, water and toiletries. Remember too, the time taken for each train to clear the platform and access route plus the time for the next train to occupy the platform must be allowed for.


Many stations now incorporate gated barriers, dividing the station into ‘paid’ and ‘unpaid’ areas. The whole question of gates is emotionally charged: passengers who pay their fare regard barriers as an obstruction and an unwritten accusation that they cannot be trusted. Less frequent travellers see them as difficult and many do not understand how to use them. Gate design in general leaves much to be desired, with sluggish operation, unreliable performance, non-universal ticket recognition and too few units to cope with peak hour traffic. Railway operators regard them as hugely beneficial, since it has been shown that, after they have been installed, fraud is reduced and income increased, with additional benefits experienced in terms of station security (Figure 12). More needs to be done to encourage acceptance by users. 

Figure 12: A row of paddle type faregates at Waterloo station in London. Gates must be designed to prevent people from climbing over or under them. They also need to be rapid in operation. Photo: Author.

Do not forget the staff

A station forming a part of a city hub is a major employer and most major stations are open 24 hours a day. As a rule, each job that must be staffed 24 hours requires the employment of five persons. Some jobs will involve temporary or part time attendance at the station and staff movements and changes will be frequent. There will be permanently employed staff for the station operation and, probably, contract staff for maintenance and cleaning, personnel of the operating companies, retail staff and separate units for policing and security and they all have different needs in terms of the station environment. Emergency services must also be considered when designing access to the site and any special facilities provided for them. 

Train crews, for example, will require accommodation at large stations, some being permanently based there but some requiring only facilities for personal needs breaks or as waiting areas. Their facilities should be as close to platforms as possible to remove excessive walking time from their duty periods.

Managing and providing facilities for the large permanent and transient staff population forms an essential part of a station’s operation. The station will need full and complete facilities for them, including control rooms, rest areas, offices, bathrooms, storage, training equipment and conference rooms. All these facilities must designed to be secure and easily inspected, if the station is to work effectively and safety.

A brief summary

For a station to function as part of a significant city hub, good architecture and design are essential but the choice of structure and facilities must be founded on the underlying principles of how passengers, staff and third parties behave. Providing simple free-flowing circulatory areas is a key element in assuring the main function of a station: boarding, alighting and transferring within and between nodes. Today, these basic principles are becoming ever more important as the sheer volume of users is threatening the performance of many British stations.

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