History and Prospects of the Rail Station


Chris A. Hale

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - station, land use - planning, land use - smart growth, land use - transit oriented development, mode - mass transit, mode - park and ride, mode - rail, mode - subway/metro, planning - integration, planning - network design


stations, rail station, train station, TOD, station design, transit oriented development


Rail stations are a major element of the overall journey experience, and are essentially the “face” of public transport.

This paper outlines the history of rail station design – for the benefit of practitioners and researchers from diverse backgrounds in the urban disciplines. A review of the established literature is cross-referenced to a 5-year program of observational fieldwork around international station exemplars. In doing so, the paper synthesises the state of advanced practice and built form outcomes in station design.

The paper also summarises technical aspects of station design that practitioners from across the urban disciplines need to understand in order to work effectively in station-related projects. This advanced understanding of the transport-based performance of stations connects with broader moves toward integrated planning.