Generic functions of railway stations—A conceptual basis for the development of common system understanding and assessment criteria

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - station, mode - rail, place - europe, infrastructure - interchange/transfer


Railway station, Systemic perspective, Functions, Stakeholders, Common system understanding, Assessment


The redevelopment of railway stations calls for the integration of many different objectives. Two crucial challenges thereby are the development of a common system understanding among the multiple stakeholders with potentially conflicting interests and the structured definition of comprehensive assessment criteria. Defining the functions of the system railway station, i.e. discussing what the system should do, can support solving these challenges. Based on a review of Swiss railway stations in a transdisciplinary research project applying four focus groups (n=38), 28 expert interviews and two expert workshops, we present a structured framework of five generic functions of railway stations and their interdependencies. The five generic functions are: linking catchment area and transport network, supporting transfer between modes of transport, facilitating commercial use of real estate, providing public space, and contributing to the identity of the surrounding area. Potential conflicts between functions are identified. They concern the competition of multiple functions for space, for customer attention or for revenues as well as increasing system complexities with station size. We illustrate how the framework of functions can be used to foster a common system understanding and to develop assessment criteria. Although elaborated from a Swiss perspective the framework is perceived adaptable to railway stations of other countries.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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