The song is Bowie's longest studio recording, at just over 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 edit appears on the Deluxe Edition of the 2010 reissue of the Station to Station album and on Re:Call 2, part of the Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976) compilation released in 2016.
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 Bowie's second live album, 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.