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Train Stations

What is a train station?

The place where trains arrive and passengers embark or disembark to go to a specific place is called a train station. In this area, travelers can consult different maps and alternate routes to get themselves oriented during their trip, and they can buy tickets to their destination.

Train stations are essential in transportation infrastructure, and they’ve been a milestone in its development since the Industrial Revolution. The first stations were built in the early 19th century in the United Kingdom. One of the most famous ones was the Lime Street station, part of the Manchester-Liverpool railway; it opened on September 15, 1830.

What’s a train station like?

Most train stations are located in special public works buildings that offer travelers access to various facilities, such as boarding platforms, ticket kiosks, and waiting areas at the simplest of stations.

Some cities have larger stations with waiting rooms, shops, and restaurants. Regardless of the station’s size, though, it must be at least one kilometer from the next one to prevent accidents.

Generally speaking, the architectural style of train stations varies according to the historical period when it was built, the country where it’s located, and the urban and architectural context surrounding it. For example, London’s St. Pancras is characterized by its neo-Gothic façade, while the iconic Gare du Nord in Paris boasts a classical style with clear Roman influence.

The distribution of space and services in their facilities vary according to the fashion of the day. For instance, Grand Central Terminal in New York boasts an open, functional structure typical of big cities in the 20th century. However, other famous stations, such as the Hua Hin station in Thailand (which was previously part of the royal palace of Sanamchan), are the result of a process of adapting to the times.

What are the best train stations in Europe?

In 2020, The Consumer Choice Center looked at the 50 largest stations in Europe to establish a ranking based on an index of the overall passenger experience. The highest possible score is 139 points, and it rates aspects like the number of connections, accessibility, cleanliness, crowdedness of platforms, signage, number of international connections, average strike days, etc.

What are the most spectacular contemporary train stations in the world?

There are classical stations that are quite impressive, such as Union Station in Washington, D.C.; the Gare du Nord in Paris; and the Kuala Lumpur station in Malaysia. Of those that have been renovated recently and have a more futuristic look, the following stand out:

  • World Trade Center Transportation Hub in New York, the United States, designed by Calatrava, opened in 2016.
  • Kanazawa Station in Ishikawa, Japan, built in 1898, updated in 2005, combining tradition and innovation.
  • Liège-Guillemins in Liége, Belgium, also designed by Calatrava, finished in 2009.
  • King’s Cross in London, opened in 1852 and restructured for the 2012 Olympics.
  • Hungerburg Station in Innsbruck, Austria, home to a hybrid train and funicular railway.

Fun facts about train stations

  • The busiest train station in Spain is Madrid Atocha, which had about 116.6 million users in 2017. It is, in turn, the ninth busiest train station in Europe.
  • In addition to being one of the main settings for Harry Potter, London’s King’s Cross Station is famous for an urban legend that identifies it as the scene of the final battle between Celtic Queen Boudica and the Romans.
  • Prague Central Station took the name Wilson Station from 1918 to 1939 in honor of American President Woodrow Wilson.
  • In all, 20,000 blue and white decorative tiles have been counted at the Sao Bento station in Portugal.
  • The tropical garden at the Atocha station covers 4000 square meters, and it’s made up of more than 7000 plants with 260 different species from America, Asia, and Australia.

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