While color, texture, frills, comfort, style, and aesthetics are important in a well-designed railway station building, before exhausting your resources on these elements there are a few design considerations experts opine must be prioritized and as an architect, you cannot afford to overlook. A railway station building, that lacks these essential features, will not achieve its basic objectives. Rethinking The Future takes you through ten main design considerations an architect or civil engineer must take into account while designing a railway station building. 

Safety of People | Designing Station

Commuters and employees in a railway station are often in a haste giving very little thought to their and others’ safety, making it more important for the architect to ensure passenger safety isn’t compromised at any stage. To design a safe and secure railway station building, the architect should first study the passenger flow through the railway station, the way people access the platforms to board and alight from the trains, the views railway employees have and must have. Some examples of innovative methods to make the railway station buildings safer are as follows: 

Railway station exit ways should not face the railway tracks. This may seem quite inefficient and may cause delays but it ensures that commuters don’t stumble onto the tracks causing danger for themselves and others. Another way of enhancing the safety of commuters is by providing views in and views out, that is, by allowing the commuters to see where they are heading. Providing a transparent glass wall or colorful grills instead of a solid brick wall will also enhance the aesthetic value of the structure.

10 Things to remember when designing Railway station - Sheet1
Mumbai Central_©DNA

Sensitive and Inclusive Features

Several differently-abled people and elderly people depend on the railway for commuting to work every day, therefore railway station design must make the stations complex more inclusive and accessible to these people. For example, Pick-up and drop zones for the elderly and disabled, ramps at level changes, two-foot warning strips with small bumps must be provided for the differently-abled travelers (especially for the visually impaired) on both sides of the track to prevent them from falling onto the tracks. It’s essential to consider the special needs of the wheelchair-bound, people with walking impairment, aged people, people with reduced mobility, visually impaired, blind people, the deaf and dumb, and the hearing impaired. Several measures must be urgently taken to make every facility accessible, safe, and convenient for the differently-abled. This is a very vast and important subject and shall be dealt with in detail in our future articles.

Usability of the Station | Designing Station

Observational studies to measure and evaluate the usability of the railway station building can be conducted to make necessary changes and enhance user experience. Accessible and inclusive sanitary arrangements are a must; bathrooms, refreshment rooms, waiting rooms and retiring rooms are key to a comfortable station building.

10 Things to remember when designing Railway station - Sheet2
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station_©remembersingapore.org

The Efficiency of the Station

Railway station buildings are the bottlenecks for rail transport as it is where trains merge and diverge. Several activities such as passenger boarding, unloading and loading of goods, alighting and interchanging, train formation, maintenance, and technical checks are done here. The number of platforms is limited and it is thus important to plan and execute all these tasks efficiently. Developing a methodology to evaluate the efficiency of the railway station building can help policymakers to rank stations in terms of their efficiency and to make more informed decisions. 

Public Requirements 

A railway station requires a comfortable and efficient booking office for tickets, a platform for unloading and loading goods, and for passengers to board or get off the train. A minimum platform covering is essential for a railway station, efficient lighting systems for night times will help enhance safety, security, and comfort; proper arrangement for drinking water is another essential feature. A public telephone, microphones to announce the arrival and departure of trains are other key features which the building design must take into account.

Traffic Requirements | Designing Station

Arrangements must be made for booking tickets and for issuing luggage labels and goods receipts. Lifts and sidings must be constructed, and platforms must be designed for handling goods, and a way for controlling and reporting the movement of trains using signals should be made.

Requirements of the Locomotive Department

Arrangements for supplying fuel and water to locomotives should be made, and a facility should be designed for maintaining and inspecting the locomotives.


Easily accessible roads, subways, and pathways should be available towards the railway station building from the surrounding localities, hotels, malls, and parks. Footbridges connecting various platforms should be designed. When the city’s Metro rail or MRTS is integrated with the station building, it is of great advantage in terms of access.

10 Things to remember when designing Railway station - Sheet3
Station Liege-Guillemins, Belgium_©The Luxury Travel Expert

General Requirement | Designing Station

Giant clocks displaying the correct time should be provided in and around the railway station building, A guide map of the town or city, especially in case of tourist spots and business hubs, boards to show the timetable of the trains departing and arriving, taxi services, police stations and help desks to help the passengers and to avoid any violation, a train inquiry office, boards showing reservation charts, eateries, and parking lots are other significant features the railway station design must include.


Sowmya is an architectural journalist and writer. In this column, Sowmya takes you through stories on eco-architecture, biophilic design, and green buildings from across the globe.