Get Central Station essential facts below. View Videos or join the Central Station discussion. Add Central Station to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Central stations or central railway stations emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century as railway stations that had initially been built on the edge of city centres were enveloped by urban expansion and became an integral part of the city centres themselves. As a result, "Central Station" is often, but not always, part of the proper name for a railway station that is the central or primary railway hub for a city.
Emergence and growth
Central stations emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century during what has been termed the "Railway Age". Initially railway stations were built on the edge of city centres but, subsequently, with urban expansion, they became an integral part of the city centres themselves.
For example, the first centralized railway terminal in Germany was Hanover Hauptbahnhof, built in 1879. This set the precedent for other major German cities. Frankfurt followed in 1888 and Cologne in the 1890s. Classic German central railway station architecture "reached its zenith" with the completion of Hamburg Hauptbahnhof in 1906 and Leipzig Hauptbahnhof in 1915.
In Europe, it was normal for the authorities to exercise greater control over railway development than in Britain and this meant that the central station was often the focal point of town planning. "Indeed, in most large continental cities the station was deliberately fronted by a square to set it off." During the 1880s "world leadership in large station design passed to Germany, where state funding helped secure the building of central stations on a lavish scale." By contrast, British entrepreneurialism led to a great diversity of ownership and rights and a lack of centralised coherence in the construction of major stations.
In time the urban expansion that put many of these stations at the heart of a city, also hemmed them in so that, although they became increasingly central to the town or city, they were further away from airports or, in some cases, other transport hubs such as bus stations leading to a lack of interoperability and interconnectivity between the different modes of transport.
A revival of fortunes for central stations arose during the 1980s, boosted by the advent of high speed rail and light rail services, that saw opportunities being seized for upgrading central stations and their facilities to create large intermodal transport hubs simultaneously serving many modes of transport, while providing a range of modern facilities for the traveller, creating a "city within a city."
Today, central stations, particularly in Europe, act as termini for a multitude of rail services - suburban, regional, domestic and international - provided by national carriers or private companies, on conventional rail networks, underground railways and tram systems. These services are often divided between several levels. In many cases, central railway stations are collocated with bus stations as well as taxi services.
Industrial and commercial centres
Central railway stations are not just major transportation nodes but may also be "a specific section of the city with a concentration of infrastructure but also with a diversified collection of buildings and open spaces" which makes them "one of the most complex social areas" of the city. This has drawn in railway business - freight and local industry using the marshalling yards - and commercial business - shops, cafes and entertainment facilities.
High speed rail
The reinvigoration of central stations since the 1980s has been, in part, due to the rise of high speed rail services. But countries have taken different approaches. France gave greater weight to 'peripheral stations', stations external to cities and new high speed lines. Germany and Italy went for the modification of existing lines and central stations. Spain opted for a hybrid approach with new high speed railway lines using existing central stations.
When translating foreign station names, "Central Station" is commonly used where the literal meaning of the station's name is 'central station', 'principal station' or 'main station'. An example of the latter is the Danish word hovedbanegård. Travel and rail sources such as Rough Guides,Thomas Cook European Timetable and Deutsche Bahn's passenger information generally use the native name; whilst some websites and English publications of some national railway operators use "central station" or "central railway station" instead.
Non-English language names for "Central Station" include:
Brussels Central Station (Bruxelles-Central / Brussel-Centraal) - not to be confused with the city's main international station, Brussels Midi (meaning "Brussels south"; the French word "Midi" is generally used as the station's name in English).
The German words for "central station" are Centralbahnhof and Zentralbahnhof. Geographically central stations may be named Mitte or Stadtmitte ("city centre"), e.g. Koblenz Stadtmitte station. In most German cities with more than one passenger station, the principal station is called Hauptbahnhof meaning "main railway station"; some German sources translate this as "central station" although stations named Hauptbahnhof may not be centrally located.
While using Hauptbahnhof in its journey planner and passenger information, in English-language publications Deutsche Bahn uses variously Hauptbahnhof, Main and Central.
In Germany, Hauptbahnhof is abbreviated to Hbf.
The following stations historically bore the name Centralbahnhof or Zentralbahnhof as part of their proper name:
In the Netherlands, a centraal station (abbreviated CS), in its original sense, was a railway station that was served by several railway companies; it therefore used to have the same meaning as a union station in the English-speaking world. Since the various private railways were merged in the early 20th century into a national railway, the term came to mean, in everyday language, the main railway station of a city.
Since the 2000s, the railways hold to the rule that a city's principal station may be called "Centraal" if it has more than a certain number of passengers per day (currently 40.000). This meant that Almere Centraal had to be demoted to Almere Centrum; however, Leiden was renamed Leiden Centraal. Additionally, stations with international high-speed trains may be given name Centraal; this applies to Arnhem. Breda was supposed to receive the epithet after renovation in 2016, but since high speed services do not yet call there, it is still called Breda.
Non-railway signage, such as on buses or roads, sometimes indicates Centraal or CS even when a city's main railway station is not actually so named.
The designation "main station" (Dworzec g?ówny, abbreviated to " G?") is used in many Polish cities to indicate the most important passenger or goods station, for instance Szczecin G?ówny. However, there is an exception:
In Sweden the term "central station" (Centralstation, abbreviated to Central or C) is used to indicate the primary station in towns and cities with more than one railway station. Many are termini for one or more lines. However, the term can also occur in a broader sense, even being used for the only railway station in a town. In some cases, this is because other stations have closed but, in others, the station is called "central" even though there has only ever been one. In these cases, the term "central" was used to highlight the level of service required due to the station's importance in the network, particularly at important railway junctions.
Many railway stations in Britain that use 'Central' are not principal stations, and are called Central to distinguish them from other stations with different names, or for prestige. In some cases, a station originally owned by the Great Central Railway in locations served by more than one station was called Central. Town also appears: for example Edenbridge Town distinguishes it from Edenbridge station.
One of the few principal stations in Britain that is called 'Central' and truly is in the centre of the city it serves is Glasgow Central. Though Glasgow was once served by four principal terminus stations, all within the city centre, only one was called 'Central'. With a few exceptions such as the Argyle line, Central serves all stations south of the city while Glasgow Queen Street serves as the principal station for all services North of the city. Likewise, Cardiff Central is located in the city centre and is the mainline hub of the South Wales' rail network, which includes 19 other stations in Cardiff itself, one of which is another principal city centre station, Cardiff Queen Street.
In the United States, several "Central" stations were built by railways called "Central", the best known example being Grand Central Station in New York City, is so named because it was built by the New York Central Railroad.
^Haddon, J. (1893). The Review of the Churches, Vol. 3, p. v, Christian Union.
^Stübben, Joseph (1896). Centralbahnhof Basel: Gutachten des Königl. Baurats Herrn Stübben in Köln über die Beziehungen der Bahnhofs-Projekte zu dem städtischen Strassennetz, Schweizerische Centralbahn-Gesellschaft (Basel).
^Kunz, Fritz (1985). Der Bahnhof Europas: 125 Jahre Centralbahnhof Basel, 1860 - 1985; [Festschr. zum Jubiläum "125 Jahre Centralbahnhof Basel", 4 - 6 Oct 1985], Pharos-Verlag, H. Schwabe. ISBN978-3-7230-0221-6
^Airtrain at the Swiss Air website. Retrieved on 30 Jul 2013