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.
- 1 Development
- 2 "Central Station" as a name
- 3 Examples of central stations
- 3.1 Europe
- 3.2 America
- 3.3 Asia
- 3.4 Africa
- 3.5 Australia
- 4 Notes
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.
"Central Station" as a name
"Central Station" is a common proper name for a railway station that is the central or primary railway hub for a city, for example, Manchester Central, and Melbourne Central. This is not to be confused with those stations where "Central" appears in name, not because they were 'central' in the sense above, but because they were once served by railway companies with "Central" as part of their name. For example, Leicester Central railway station was owned by the Great Central Railway, and Central Station (Chicago) was owned by the Illinois Central Railroad.
Non-English speaking countries
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:
- Централна гара (tsentralna gara) in Bulgarian
- střed in Czech
- Centraal Station (abbreviated formerly as CS and currently as Centraal) in Dutch
- Gare centrale in French
- Hauptbahnhof, Centralbahnhof or Zentralbahnhof in German
- תחנה מרכזית (tahana merkazit) in Hebrew
- Stazione Centrale (abbreviated C.le) in Italian
- sentralstasjon in Norwegian
- Estação Central in Portuguese
- Estación Central in Spanish
- centralstation (abbreviated central or C) in Swedish
Non-English language terms that literally mean 'principal station' or 'main station' are sometimes translated into English as "Central":
- Glavni kolodvor (abbreviated Gl. kol.) in Croatian
- hlavní nádraží (abbreviated hl. n.) in Czech
- hovedbanegård in Danish
- Hauptbahnhof (abbreviated Hbf or HB) in German
- Dworzec Główny (abbreviated Gł.) in Polish
- hlavná stanica (abbreviated hl. st.) in Slovak
Examples of central stations
The following are examples of stations from around the world where "Central Station" is part of their name in English or can be translated as such from their native language.
- Wien Hauptbahnhof
- Graz Hauptbahnhof
- Linz Hauptbahnhof
- Salzburg Hauptbahnhof
- Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof
- St. Pölten Hauptbahnhof
- Wels Hauptbahnhof
- Wörgl Hauptbahnhof
- Leoben Hauptbahnhof
- Brest Central Station (Brest-Centralny, Брест-Центральный)
Three stations in Belgium are named "-Central" (Dutch Centraal).
- Antwerp Central Station (Antwerpen-Centraal)
- 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).
- Verviers Central Station (Verviers-Central)
Two Danish stations have names sometimes translated to central:
- Aarhus Central Station - the busiest Danish station outside the Copenhagen area
- Copenhagen Central Station - the largest station in Denmark
There are three stations with "central" in their names:
- Central Railway Station, Sofia (Централна гара София)
- Central Railway Station, Plovdiv (Централна гара Пловдив)
- Ruse Central railway station (Централна гара Русе)
The following stations are named "main station" (hlavní nádraží):
- Brno hlavní nádraží (Brno)
- Česká Lípa hlavní nádraží (Česká Lípa)
- Děčín hlavní nádraží (Děčín)
- Hradec Králové hlavní nádraží (Hradec Králové)
- Karviná hlavní nádraží (Karviná)
- Kutná Hora hlavní nádraží (Kutná Hora)
- Mladá Boleslav hlavní nádraží (Mladá Boleslav)
- Nymburk hlavní nádraží (Nymburk)
- Olomouc hlavní nádraží (Olomouc)
- Ostrava hlavní nádraží (Ostrava)
- Pardubice hlavní nádraží (Pardubice)
- Plzeň hlavní nádraží (Pilsen)
- Praha hlavní nádraží (Prague)
- Prostějov hlavní nádraží (Prostějov)
- Trutnov hlavní nádraží (Trutnov)
- Ústí nad Labem hlavní nádraží (Ústí nad Labem)
The following stations are named "central" (střed):
- Brumov střed (Brumov)
- Louny střed (Louny)
- Mikulášovice střed (Mikulášovice)
- Ostrava střed (Ostrava)
- Smržovka střed (Smržovka)
- Trutnov střed (Trutnov)
- Zlín střed (Zlín)
In addition to the above, Praha Masarykovo nádraží was named "Praha střed" from 1953 until 1990.
Two Finnish stations can be translated to central:
- Helsinki Central railway station (Helsingin päärautatieasema)
- Turku Central railway station (Turun päärautatieasema)
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.
In Germany, Hauptbahnhof is abbreviated to Hbf.
The following stations historically bore the name Centralbahnhof or Zentralbahnhof as part of their proper name:
- Chemnitz Hauptbahnhof
- Köln Hauptbahnhof
- Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof
- Hamburg Dammtor station: documents from around the time of the opening of the station refer to Centralbahnhof. or Zentral-Bahnhof.
- Ingolstadt Hauptbahnhof
- Magdeburg Hauptbahnhof
- Mainz Hauptbahnhof
- München Hauptbahnhof until 1 May 1904.
- Oldenburg Hauptbahnhof (called Centralbahnhof Oldenburg from 1879 to 1911)
- Osnabrück Hauptbahnhof
- Stuttgart Zentralbahnhof (or Centralbahnhof) was a centrally located station on the Zentralbahn (replaced by Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, which opened on a new site east of the centre in 1922).
- Agrigento Centrale railway station
- Bari Centrale railway station
- Barletta Centrale railway station (FNB)
- Bologna Centrale railway station
- Catania Centrale railway station
- Gorizia Centrale railway station
- La Spezia Centrale railway station
- Lamezia Terme Centrale railway station
- Livorno Centrale railway station
- Messina Centrale railway station
- Milano Centrale railway station
- Napoli Centrale railway station
- Palermo Centrale railway station
- Pescara Centrale railway station
- Pisa Centrale railway station
- Prato Centrale railway station
- Reggio Calabria Centrale railway station
- Tarvisio Centrale railway station - now closed
- Torre Annunziata Centrale railway station
- Trieste Centrale railway station
- Treviglio railway station, also known as Treviglio Centrale
- Treviso Centrale railway station
- Trieste Centrale railway station
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.
Six stations have the word Centraal:
- Amsterdam Centraal
- Den Haag Centraal
- Leiden Centraal
- Rotterdam Centraal
- Utrecht Centraal
- Arnhem Centraal
There are also stations with the word Centrum, which indicates the station is in the city centre:
- Almere Centrum
- Barneveld Centrum
- Ede Centrum
- Kerkrade Centrum
- Lelystad Centrum
- Schiedam Centrum
- Veenendaal Centrum
- Vlaardingen Centrum
The designation "main station" (Dworzec główny, abbreviated to " Gł") is used in many Polish cities to indicate the most important passenger or goods station, for instance Szczecin Główny. However, there is an exception:
- Warszawa Centralna railway station is the principal station in the capital Warsaw, the Warszawa Główna railway stations having closed.
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.
- Arlanda Central Station (Stockholm Arlanda Airport)
- Gothenburg Central Station
- Halmstad Central Station
- Hässleholm Central Station
- Jönköping Central Station
- Malmö Central Station
- Norrköping Central Station
- Nässjö Central Station
- Stockholm Central Station
- Uppsala Central Station
- Västerås Central Station
- Lund Central Station
- Kalmar Central Station
- Karlskrona Central Station
- Kristianstad Central Station
- Linköping Central Station
- Helsingborg Central Station
- Södertälje Central Station
- Örebro Central Station
Additionally, Basel SBB railway station was originally known as the Centralbahnhof or, in English, Basle Central Station and is still sometimes referred to today as the Centralbahnhof or Basel/Basle Central Station.
In Switzerland, Hauptbahnhof is abbreviated to HB.
- Adana Central railway station
- Ankara Central railway station
- Eskişehir Central railway station
- Gaziantep Central railway station
- İstanbul Sirkeci railway station
- İzmir Alsancak railway station
- Kars Central railway station
- Kayseri Central railway station
- Mersin Central railway station
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 station. 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.
- Acton Central railway station
- Belfast Central railway station
- Birkenhead Central railway station
- Brackley Central railway station
- Burnley Central railway station
- Cardiff Central railway station
- Central railway station (London)
- Chesterfield Central railway station
- Coatbridge Central railway station
- Croydon Central railway station
- Dumbarton Central railway station
- Exeter Central railway station
- Finchley Central tube station
- Folkestone Central railway station
- Gainsborough Central railway station
- Glasgow Central railway station
- Greenock Central railway station
- Hackney Central railway station
- Hamilton Central railway station
- Helensburgh Central railway station
- Hendon Central tube station
- Hounslow Central tube station
- Hyde Central railway station
- Kirkby-in-Ashfield Central railway station
- Leicester Central railway station
- Lincoln Central railway station
- Liverpool Central railway station
- Loughborough Central railway station
- Manchester Central railway station
- Mansfield Central railway station
- Milton Keynes Central railway station
- New Mills Central railway station
- Newcastle Central railway station and associated Central Station Metro station
- Redcar Central railway station
- Rotherham Central railway station
- Rugby Central railway station
- St Helens Central railway station
- St Helens Central (GCR) railway station
- Salford Central railway station
- Scarborough Central railway station
- Southend Central railway station
- Southampton Central railway station
- Staveley Central railway station
- Sutton-in-Ashfield Central railway station
- Telford Central railway station
- Tuxford Central railway station
- Walthamstow Central station
- Warrington Central railway station
- Wembley Central station
- Windsor and Eton Central railway station
- Wrexham Central railway station
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. Others, however, are not. For example, the new Miami Central Station is being built for Amtrak as the principal and intermodal station to serve rapid transit, commuter rail, intercity rail, and intercity bus services in Miami.
This contrasts with a union station, which, in the past, served more than one railway company (the equivalent term in Europe is a joint station). This is no longer the case, as the government-funded Amtrak took over the operation of all intercity passenger rail in the 1970s and 1980s.
- Buffalo Central Terminal, in Buffalo, New York
- Central Station, Chicago
- Grand Central Station, Chicago
- Central (CTA Green Line), Chicago, Illinois
- Central (CTA Purple Line), Evanston, Illinois
- Central Station (JTA Skyway), Jacksonville, Florida
- Central Station (Memphis), Memphis, Tennessee
- Miami Central Station, Miami, Florida
- Grand Central Terminal, New York City
- Great Central Station, Chicago
- Central station (Edmonton), in Edmonton
- Montreal Central Station, in Montreal
- Guelph Central Station, an intermodal (rail/bus) station in Guelph
- In Brazil, "Central Station" is called as "Estação Central" and can be a place that integrates bus or train.
- Central do Brasil, in Rio de Janeiro
- Estação da Luz, in São Paulo
- Kanpur Central (CNB), in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh
- Mangalore Central (MAQ) in Mangalore, Karnataka
- Mumbai Central (BCT), in Mumbai, Maharashtra
- Trivandrum Central (TVC), in Trivandrum, Kerala
- Chennai Central (MAS), in Chennai, Tamil Nadu
- Beersheba Center Railway Station, Be'er Sheva
- Haifa Center HaShmona Railway Station, Haifa
- Modi'in Center Railway Station, Modi'in
- Tel Aviv Savidor Central Railway Station, Tel Aviv
- Taipei Railway Station, a central station in Taipei City
- Xinzuoying Station, a central station in Kaohsiung City
- Central and Hong Kong stations, the principal interchange station of the MTR rapid transit system (named after Central District, where it is located; served by an airport rail link and inter-town trains)
- Kowloon Station, a central station in West Kowloon of the MTR rapid transit system (served by the intercity Express Rail Link, Airport Express and Tung Chung Line)
- Tuen Mun Station, an interchange station in Tuen Mun (served by the West Rail line and several light rail routes)
- Sha Tin Station, a central station in Sha Tin New Town
- Tung Chung Station, a central station in Tung Chung
- Kuala Lumpur Sentral railway station, in Kuala Lumpur
- Central railway station, Brisbane, Brisbane
- Melbourne Central railway station, named after Melbourne Central Shopping Centre, Melbourne
- Central railway station, Sydney, also known as Sydney Terminal, Sydney
- Gawler Central railway station, Adelaide
- Wynnum Central railway station, Brisbane
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