Achnashellach is a very basic railway station with just a raised platform and small shelter
At the opposite end of the scale, major termini like London Waterloo are vast buildings with many tracks
A railway station is a place where trains make scheduled stops. Stations usually have one or more platforms constructed alongside a line of railway. However, railway stations come in many different configurations – influenced by such factors as the geographical nature of the site, or the need to serve more than one route, which may or may not be connected, and the level of the tracks. Examples include:
stations in tunnels;
stations with platforms on more than one level; and
stations with other unusual layouts (e.g. with staggered, non-parallel, or severely curved platforms).
This page presents some examples of these more unusual station layouts.
The particular geography of a line may lead to the station being built below the level of the adjoining terrain (in a cutting) or inside a tunnel. If a station is in a tunnel, it is usually because the station has been constructed beneath the city to serve the city centre, or that the station was originally in a cutting which has subsequently been built over. Examples of individual tunnel stations (i.e. not forming part of a complete metro, suburban railway or underground railway, system) are:
Antwerp – The lowest level (−2) of Antwerpen-Centraal railway station could be considered a tunnel station, as it serves two tracks passing through a tunnel under the city centre. The upper parts of the station, including the original tracks (Level +1) are a terminus.
At Leeds, the station is located on a viaduct over two streets and a river
Port Adelaide's station from ground level, with a passing train, before its reconstruction in 2010
In the similar way, many stations have elevated platforms which are usually one level above the street, with trains entering on viaducts or embankments, which is normally due to the geography of the region. Some more interesting examples include (not including elevated rapid transit systems):
Brisbane Airport, Brisbane Queensland has two elevated stations on a pre-stressed concrete viaduct. The stations themselves are connected to the International and Domestic terminals by a series of elevated pedestrian walkways over a car park.
Some stations have platforms serving two rail routes which cross at different levels. This is particularly common with Metro systems, but with surface-level railways it is often common to have separate stations on each line, or no connection at all. Examples of stations at a rail-rail crossing include:
Amsterdam Sloterdijk – at ground level is the railway from Amsterdam to Haarlem and Zaandam, with branches to Alkmaar and Purmerend/Hoorn; at elevated level is the railway from Amsterdam to Schiphol Airport, thence to Leiden and The Hague. Booking hall and station square are at an intermediate level. On the south-west side of the crossing and beside the station square runs the Hemboog chord, connecting Schiphol and Amsterdam-Lelylaan to Zaandam, which also has a set of platforms and raised above the street.
Berlin Hauptbahnhof – on the elevated "Stadtbahn" a new central station has been built, above a new underground railway line. Several other examples exist on the Berlin S-Bahn, at Westkreuz, Ostkreuz, Südkreuz and Schöneberg, and with one of the lines in tunnel at Friedrichstraße.
Osnabrück Hbf – at ground level is the railway from Amsterdam to Berlin, at elevated level the railway from Dortmund to Bremen.
SydneyWolli Creek station – two side platforms are below ground level (but open air) and serve the Airport line, and one island platform is above ground, serving the Illawarra line, which crosses at approximately right angles at this point. There are also some tracks from the Illawarra to the East Hills line not served by any platform.
In the UK, stations with this layout are frequently distinguished by adding the designations "High Level" or "Low Level" to the platforms. An example is Tamworth, where the low-level platforms are on the West Coast Main Line from London to Glasgow, and the high-level platforms are on the cross-country route from Birmingham to Derby. Other examples include:
It was and still is common in the United States for stations to be located where two line cross at the same level, often without a connection between them.
Rare examples in the United Kingdom include:
Newark North Gate railway station is just south-east of the Newark flat crossing, where the East Coast Main Line, and the Nottingham to Lincoln Line cross. The other line is served by Newark Castle railway station. It is the fastest such crossing in the UK, with East Coast services allowed to travel over it at 100 mph (160 km/h). A number of passenger trains in both directions between Lincoln and Nottingham serve both stations by means of a short north-east to south-east curve connecting the two lines: trains from Lincoln reverse out of North Gate station before using the crossing; those from Nottingham reverse into the station after crossing the main line.
Retford, on the East Coast Main Line north of Newark, also had a flat crossing until the 1960s. Trains crossing the main line had to use curves to reverse in and out of the station. This flat crossing was later replaced by a dive-under with two new low-level platforms.
In Oakland's Jack London Square, the Amtrak and Capitol Corridor rail services, as well as through freight trains, actually operate along the street, with tracks embedded in the pavement (much the same way a tram would be expected to operate). The station itself is in a structure some yards away from the platforms.
Sometimes, a station may be built at a junction with a pair of platforms on each branch, resulting in a V-shaped station. Usually, either one or both sets of platforms are curved. This layout provides an additional safety measure for working on single track lines. In Germany, this is referred to as a Keilbahnhof.
At Virginia Water, the platforms are on the same level but at different angles.
Hamilton Station, where one of the platforms is used, and the other one is not used. The platform that is in use is on the line south to Wellington, and the unused platform is on the line to Tauranga via the disused Hamilton Central Station.
Marks Tey has two main line platforms and a single short platform at an angle to the north for the Gainsborough Line. Normally these branch line trains terminate here rather than proceeding to join the main line.
Central railway station, Sydney Platforms 1 to 15 are terminal (dock) platforms used by long distance and interurban services. Platforms 16 to 23 are above ground through platforms (4 x islands). Platforms 24 and 25 are below in underground tunnels. There are also 2 never used underground platforms above platforms 24 and 25.
Belmont, New South Wales. The terminal platform was on the single line, while the run round and sidings were located beyond the platform. Later when the run round and sidings were abolished, the single dead-end platform was relocated on the other side of the level crossing.
Cronulla now consists of two platforms end to end, but with no connection between platforms.
Gosford railway station, New South Wales – because the track centres between platform 1 and 2 (dating from 1890) are still so narrow, signals are now interlocked to prevent trains to use both platforms at the same time.
In Charleroi's light subway system, the Waterloo station has a two platform tracks, which diverge in two directions on both sides of the station, but two of those lines come together to form a single link, so trains can go from any direction to any direction without reversing.
Cork's Kent Station is curved, due to the lines entering the station at right angles to the River Lee, but having to connect to a line running parallel to the river.
Limerick Junction, County Tipperary (formerly Tipperary Junction) is the only place in Ireland where two lines cross at near-90 degrees. It serves several destinations, mainly connections to/from Limerick and the Cork–Dublin main line. The other line served is Limerick–Waterford. The platform layout is not particularly unusual, but track diagrams are complex, resulting in trains needing to reverse behind the station building into one of the platforms on occasion. Until 1967, reversing into platforms was a required manoeuvre for all trains stopping at the station.
Dresden Hauptbahnhof is a terminus station with through tracks on either sides of the station building.
At Anyang, where both subway and passenger train stops, rapid subway train platforms (high level platforms) are connected with passenger train platforms (low level platforms). Passenger can move from subway platform to passenger train platform without stairs and vice versa. Deokso Station have similar platform layouts.
At Kowloon Station, two side platforms are built atop an island platform, with the middle of the station reserved for escalators.
At Liskeard, the platform for the branch line to Looe is on the same level as, but at right angles to, those on the Plymouth – Penzance main line.
At Templecombe the LSWR and S&DJR lines crossed at right angles with a link between them. S&D trains reversed into the LSWR station.
Edinburgh Waverley is laid out as two back-to-back terminus station (although only a few east-facing bay platforms remain). The station building is located between banks of east and west facing bay platforms, with several through tracks on the north and south sides.
At Inverness, the platforms to the south are at angle to the platforms to the north, with a triangular connection. Through trains reverse into the station (in some cases, twice in succession, as only one platform is available to both north and south routes).
Manchester Victoria and Manchester Exchange (now closed) were adjacent and connected by a single common platform which was the longest railway platform in Europe. Trains would pass through one station on through lines and then stop at the other station, rather than stopping at both stations.
Clapham Junction in Wandsworth, London spans several lines that diverge either side of the station, and is made up of two separate sets of island platforms linked by a footbridge and a subway.
Raynes Park in London is located within a flying junction. It has two staggered main line platforms. Westbound trains on the Mole Valley Line (a branch line) arrive at a separate westbound platform which is at 30 degrees to the main line westbound platform. Trains joining the main line from the Mole Valley Line pass under the main line and curve around and arrive at another platform which is 30 degrees to the main line platforms, but not parallel to the westbound Mole Valley Line platform.
South Ferry (see diagram) was a two-track loop station, with a sharply curved side platform for each track. Due to problems with train length and platform clearance, this station was replaced by a standard stub terminus with two tracks and an island platform (South Ferry), although the original trackage remains in use for turning trains when necessary.
Olympic Park, Sydney, Australia is on a balloon loop. Platforms 1 and 4 are for boarding; platforms 2 and 3 are for alighting.
Outer Harbor, Adelaide, Australia is on a balloon loop but not all of the balloon loop remains in place. All trains now enter the station from the south, driver changes ends and railcar reverses to Adelaide.
Stations are sometimes built at two levels so as to provide level access to a township that is located on one side only. One level is for trains going one way, and the other level for the other way. Metro system as general practice have multilevel stations where lines intersect, usually without any connection for the trains, and these are too numerous to list here. Some unusual examples include:
Dorchester South. Originally this was built as an east-facing terminus with the intent of extending the line westwards. This never happened, and trains instead had to reverse to continue to Weymouth. In the 1980s, it was closed and a new through platforms was built to the south.
Chennai Central – trains arriving from the north and departing to the west or vice versa have to reverse.
Sale – extension to Bairnsdale required reversal; through station later built.
St Kilda – all trains required reversal when proceeding towards Windsor.
Balaklava – trains from Adelaide towards Gladstone and vice versa required reversal. All these lines are now closed.
30th Street Station, Philadelphia - Amtrak's Keystone and Pennsylvanian trains must change directions here when transitioning from the Northeast Corridor to the Keystone Corridor on the New York - Philadelphia - Harrisburg - Pittsburg route. The Pennsylvanian also requires a power change to diesel.
Sheffield - trains between Doncaster and Lincoln both enter from the same direction, meaning trains are directed into north-facing bay platforms and the driver has to change ends to continue onwards to the destination.
Cambrian Line services at Shrewsbury where the train goes into a bay platform and then reverses all the way to its destination.
At Morecambe, trains continuing to Heysham Port must reverse, because there is no longer a chord connecting the two lines.
Swansea – Continuing trains in both directions which stop at Swansea must reverse, however there is a section of track to bypass the station.
Carmarthen – Continuing trains in both directions which stop at Carmarthen must reverse, however there is a section of track to bypass the station.
Otjiwarongo – the Outjo branch would easily join the main line in the wrong direction for through trains, but to avoid a reversal, the branch makes a series of curves to join the main line in the right direction. A second smaller triangle is for turning engines.
At Engaru, Hokkaidō, the Nayoro Main Line came from one direction and continued to two directions as the Sekihoku Main Line. The Nayoro Line was closed in 1989 while the Sekihoku Line is active.
Derby TriJunct Station was the first such station, where three proposed companies met in 1840. Largely because of intervention by the town council, the three lines shared one long platform.
At both Birmingham New Street and Buxton, rival companies (the MR and the LNWR) built stations next door to each other, separated by no more than a narrow roadway. The same occurred at Evesham, the companies there being the GWR and the MR.
Examples abound in the UK, where it was normal for the many different companies that built the rail network to each build their own main station in a town. Indeed the possibility of different companies sharing assets caused a number of legal headaches. In some cases settlements with populations of a few thousand would have three railway stations. Examples include:
Practically all the stations between Buxton and Manchester on the rival LNWR and Midland lines. Buxton, Derbyshire, consisted of two separate stations, built in 1863, one backed by the London and North Western Railway the other by the Midland Railway. The stations were built side-by-side, and had matching frontages designed by the same architect, J Smith.
The village of Crianlarich used to have two stations on different lines, Crianlarich Lower and Crianlarich Upper separated by a walk of 300 yards. Later one of the stations and part of one of the lines were closed. However one stop away (on both lines) the village of Tyndrum still has two stations on separate lines.
The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page.(May 2011)
In order to aid both passengers and railway staff, platforms are normally identified using numbers, letters or a mixture of both. These are allocated according to principles that may differ from country to country (or even from railway to railway). These designations are usually displayed on signs and departure displays to aid navigation.
In Taipei Station, long platforms that host two trains on the same platform use letters after the numbers. E.g. 3A meaning platform number 3 on the front end, and 3B meaning the other end.
In Victoria, Australia platforms are numbered. Stations with only one platform are numbered only within the (Metlink). Stations with two platforms are usually numbered so that platform 1 is the Melbourne inbound ("up") service and platform 2 is the Melbourne outbound ("down") service. In the suburban network of Melbourne, a third platform is usually reserved for local services during the peak hours and the second platform used by express services. Stations with four platforms are usually at stations with two or more lines passing through. In the off-peak platforms 1 and 3 would be inbound "up" services and platforms 2 and 4 would be for the outbound "down" services. Two inner city stations, North Melbourne and Richmond, have several platforms. Again, odd number platforms are for the "up" trains and the even number platforms are for the "down" trains, often with a platform serving one line each or a group of lines.
In the Czech Republic, especially at through stations and stops with multiple platforms, platforms are assigned a Roman numeral. Platform "I" is typically a side platform adjacent to the station building or the first island platform from it. Tracks are numbered separately and are usually numbered in the opposite direction of the platform numerals. For example, a bay platform would have one numeral and as many numbers as there are tracks, while a more typical island platform would have one numeral and two numbers. Platforms are further divided along their length into to lettered zones, to help distinguish (among other things) when more than one train is occupying a track at a platform.
In France, platforms bear letters as designations. Except some stations in Paris, where the platform number exceeds 26, such as Saint Lazare with 27 numbered platforms, platforms are always given letters.
In the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland, platforms themselves are not numbered – the tracks are. This implies that island platforms typically have two numbers, one number for each side of the platform. Platforms long enough to host two or more trains on the same track at the same time use superscript letters. (So 5a and 5b are on the same platform indicating the same track, but one is at the far end, and the other at the near). All tracks are numbered, including tracks that do not run along a platform. So in a station, there might be a platform 4/5 and a platform 7/8 with no platform 6. Tracks numbers count upwards from 1, usually starting with the track facing the city centre. Germany uses a similar system but additional letters are not superscripted (so track 5 might be split into 5a and 5b).
In the United Kingdom, the numbering usually starts from the left when looking in the "up" direction of the line (i.e., towards the capital or other principal destination), although some stations do not carry this characteristic (e.g., Leicester railway station). In addition:
Letters are sometimes used to avoid confusion with nearby numbered platforms; thus the platforms at Waterloo East station are designated A–D to distinguish them from those at Waterloo station with which they form a single complex. At Manchester Victoria, platform numbers are given to National Rail services and Letters A, B and C are given to Manchester Metrolink platforms to avoid confusion between the two systems.
When lines are added or removed, platform numbers are not necessarily updated to reflect this fact, such as Shrewsbury and formerly Lincoln Central having no railway at platforms 1 and 2. Cardiff Central, Haymarket, and Stockport are notable for having a platform 0; in the past Preston has also had one. Cardiff Central additionally no longer has a platform 5, despite signs in the station's subway indicating its existence; it is planned to reopen though.
Sometimes, a platform may be split into "A" and "B" lettered sections (such as at Birmingham New Street), which are each capable of carrying local trains, whilst longer trains use the whole platform. A related system numbers each end of the platforms separately, such as at Bristol Temple Meads, where the Penzance end of the station carries even platform numbers, with the London end allocated odd numbers.
A Platform 0 opened at London Kings Cross in 2010, built adjacent to the long-established platform 1. Labelling it "0" saved renumbering the existing 11 platforms at the mainline station, with potential for confusion. All platforms will be re-numbered once the current refurbishments and development has been fully completed.
Historically, some stations (such as Clapham Junction) numbered each physical platform once, even if it served two lines. In the modern era, each platform face is numbered individually; lines without a platform generally remain unidentified.
At some stations, bay platforms can be numbered out of sequence. For example, at Northampton railway station, the platform numbers from west to east are 3, 2, 1, 4, 5, platforms 4 and 5 being north-facing bays.
In New York City's Grand Central Terminal, the tracks are numbered according to their geographic location in the terminal building rather than the trains' destinations because all of trains at Grand Central terminate there. There are 41 tracks on the upper level and they are numbered from 1 to 41 from the most eastern track to the most western track. On the lower level, there are 26 tracks; they are numbered from 100 to 126, east to west. This system makes it easy for passengers to quickly locate where their train is departing from and removes much of the confusion in finding one's train due to the immense size of the terminal. Often, local and off-peak trains depart from the lower level while express, super-express and peak trains depart from the main concourse. Trains operated with a locomotive always use the upper level, while electric multiple unit trains use both. Odd numbered tracks are usually on the east side (right side facing north) of the platform; even numbered tracks on the west side.
Many stations are not located near the towns which they purport to serve. Some stations append the word "road" to their name, indicating that they are "on the road to" the given place.
In many instances these stations were constructed during the early years of railway development, and towns have since grown up either independently around the proximity of the station (notably Crewe), or increased in size to eventually include the station (e.g., Woking).
Some examples of current and former "road" stations:
In Germany, stations are always named by the main place they were intended to serve. If the station is located out of town, then a small village/town area may have grown up around it, known as the town name with "Bahnhof" appended. The best examples are:
Grafing Bahnhof, some 5 km from Grafing proper
Wasserburg Bahnhof, actually located in Reitmehring, and a separate station from Wasserburg "Stadt"
There is also the case of the railway station Holm-Seppensen, built to serve the villages of Holm and Seppensen and roughly halfway between them, around which a settlement eventually grew, which was then known as Holm-Seppensen. Holm, Holm-Seppensen and Seppensen are now all part of Buchholz in der Nordheide.
This practice can also be found in Italy (e.g., Montepulciano Stazione) and in many other countries.
In Slovenia, for example, the railway station "Most na Soči" serving the town of the same name is located on the other bank of the river Soča, about a mile away from the town. A separate village Postaja (meaning "Station" in Slovene) has grown around the railway station.
In recent years in the UK, the designation "Parkway" has become popular for a station some distance from the town or city it serves, but which has a large car park attached. A notable example is Bristol Parkway.
In New South Wales, Australia, a few stations are named for the locality they are situated but are stations representing a larger nearby centre. Examples of such are Bomaderry, the station for Nowra (indicated on maps and timetables as "Bomaderry (Nowra)"), and Dunmore, the stations for Shellharbour (indicated as "Dunmore (Shellharbour)". This is sometimes used in the UK such as Ashchurch for Tewkesbury.
The height of platforms has a bearing on station layout design.
With high level platforms following British practice, wide platforms are normal, with wide track centres when island platforms are provided. Access to inner platforms is usually via footbridges and subways.
With low level platforms such as in many places in North America, platforms are typically long and narrow. There is usually one platform on each side of every track, while access to inner platforms is via a pedestrian crossing at grade.
Subway systems the world over generally have high level platforms for quick access to the trains.
Trains may be fitted for high or low platforms and sometimes have folding stairs or "trap doors" on internal stairs to match both high and low platforms. In the United States, New Jersey Transit accommodates high platforms at all its car doors and low platforms using longer doors and trap-doored steps at the ends of the cars. With this setup the middle doors in a car do not open to low platforms.
Since broad gauge trains have typically wider carbody and higher train floor than narrow gauge trains, they can share low level platforms, but may not be able to share high level platforms.
This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
This is a list of largest railway stations in the world in terms of number of tracks (where 20 is taken as a minimum definition of "large"). Note that the number of platforms is usually smaller, as many of these stations have island platforms, with a track on each side.
The way tracks are counted is not uniform; e.g., a long track may be counted as two if two trains can be parked there.
Tracks are on two underground levels: 41 on upper level and 26 on lower level. Not all tracks are used for passenger service. There are also five subway routes that are located underground, accounting for nine tracks over three different lines (5 separate platforms).
Howrah station is the largest station in India having 23 platforms, it has 2 complexes old and new, the old complex has pf no. 1 -16 and new complex has pf no. 17-23. It is slated to get an additional 15 platform tracks north of the current station in the next decade to bring it up to a total of 37 platform tracks.