The song is Bowie's longest studio recording, clocking in just above 10 minutes. Structurally, the song builds from a droning, guitar-driven introductory portion that mimics a train building up speed, to an uptempo section punctuated by the refrain "It's too late."
The song was released as a promo single (42549 A) in January 1976 in France, with a shortened duration of 3:40 and "TVC 15" on the b-side. The single version begins at the central section of the song with the drums just prior to the "once there were mountains..." lyric. This short edit of "Station To Station" was mainly for radio stations and was played frequently on French radio at the time. The single can be heard on the Deluxe Edition of the 2010 reissue of the Station to Station album.
A live performance recorded on 23 March 1976 was released on Live Nassau Coliseum '76, part of the 2010 reissues of the Station to Station album.
A live version, edited from recordings made at concert performances in Providence, RI on 5 May 1978 and in Boston, MA on 6 May 1978, was released on Stage. This version was also featured in the Christiane F. movie, where Bowie, miming the 1978 live recording, made an appearance as himself performing the song at a concert. An edit of this version was released on the soundtrack of the film.
A live version recorded on 12 September 1983 was released on the concert film Serious Moonlight.