Design, challenges and solutions, integrating the rail station in the urban landscape

The rapid development of various transit systems has seen the modernisation of stations along the route of these systems. Light rail transit stations should be visible and convenient, that means they have to occur frequently along transit lines. They need to be aesthetically pleasing along with having ability to provide shelter to the users. Transit passengers need places to wait. Rail stations which are integrated with other attractive public open spaces and pedestrian friendly spaces will attract users and maintain passenger transit.

The public transport system has become an increasingly important mode of transport to city inhabitants, especially due to the recent oil price hike; more and more people are turning to public transport to move around the city. It has also become a better alternative way to avoid the traffic congestion in the city.
Transit station architecture, which supports rail and road transits, is not a bus-stop; it shall not serve as a “touch and go” architecture and architecture spaces. Transportation is no longer just mobility, it has become a significant urban form of major cities, in comparison with other public works; transit stations have the potential to reshape the constructions environment in a city, have opportunities to create places that enhance the quality of urban life and the cities. Being a part of the city architecture, transit stations need to be aesthetically pleasing along with being able to provide shelter to the users, linking the communities, a place to wait, a place to gather,… they serve more than an urban location.

A community area

Most stations carry the typical design which is not considering the surrounding context, so that, experts say, a more environmental friendly design and planning approach are needed.
Signalling could be a good answer to most of the problems that disabled people face, but a well planned and well-thought-out design in context to the surrounding environment for the access inside railway stations is most important. Railway stations have to be community areas, but unfortunately, in most European cities, most public areas that surround stations are not well-connected to these stations, even if there is ground and space potential which was not explored; therefore more and more transit operators have realized that the facilities in  the rail stations will increase the number of public transport users.
In big urban agglomerations, linkages between stations especially at the integration of different lines is very important. A well planned and proper link is also important to further enhance the efficiency of overall transit services. Apart from the services provided inside railway stations in developed cities, the intermodal component is also very important, more precisely the connection of the railway station to the city centre and the airports. It is even more important if the connection is also provided through rail transport. The railway station should not longer be seen as an impediment, as an architectural structure that “congests” even more the city.
What are the expectations of the modern citizen in what concerns railway stations? Diverse functions and a better integration in the urban landscape. Railway stations have to be a pleasant environment for people working inside stations, a complex shopping centre and a 24h/day  active environment for retailers, as well as a fast and convenient transit and shift method between modes of transport. The area located around a railway station can host an important urban pole, but urban authorities have to adopt an integrated approach for a sustainable and coherent development.

by Elena Ilie