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What is a Railway Station?

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Foreword by Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General

Since railways were first built, stations have always been places of interest and important living spaces within cities. They are an interface between the various modes of transport and places which have had to constantly adapt to growing urbanisation.

Stations are also multi-dimensional hubs where modern architectural lines meet older and more historical ones built by our predecessors – given that the history of stations began with the railways. It is a story which started with the first industrial revolution in the 19th century, in the shape of Stephenson’s steam locomotive, Eiffel’s metallic structure and Barlow, who built a network and stations for trains, and who formed a network across regions – not to mention the history of Freycinet, the conquest of the West, of the Baikal-Amur and Hejaz railways, and the Orient Express.

Stations are also gateways for travelling to places steeped in culture.

Ultimately, stations also represent a dream of future mobility, from station to station, in a free and open world, thanks to the work of our great-grandparents who had great dreams, and thanks to the dreams of our children, who have set their sights even higher than us.

This special UIC eNews edition on Railway Stations, with its varied content, aims to demonstrate UIC’s commitment to this subject, which is addressed every day across all aspects by the networks of expert groups at global level.

We hope that you enjoy reading this edition and we look forward to seeing you at the UIC Next Station Conference from 19 – 20 October in Madrid.

To conclude with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Hitch your station to a star

UIC Director General

2 Votes

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UIC Handbook on Smart Stations in Smart Cities

This handbook, prepared by the UIC Passenger team, will be distributed at the UIC NEXTSTATION Conference from 19 – 20 October 2017. In the meantime we are pleased to share some highlights from this publication.

Taking a smart approach to this matter will add value to the way stations operate and/or the services they provide. It is all about seeking out new, faster, more effective methods and processes which chime better with the challenges facing cities and railways.

It is also about reducing, as far as possible, the adverse impact of railway business on urban areas and their inhabitants and users (in particular reducing stress and conflict arising from competing uses).

Stations must adapt to their users and their environments. Stations must be able to go the extra mile and their reach should exceed their grasp.

New behaviour patterns result from the influence of technological innovation on users. New products create new needs, and consequently new practices. These in turn create new types of tension requiring new solutions. As well as solving new potential or real conflicts, smart solutions can make the impossible possible.

First of all, it should be pointed out that stations are unique in terms of role, location, services and use, both in terms of time and space. The criteria used to define a smart city also apply to stations. However, the smart city model does need to be adapted before it can be transposed to the railway environment, which has specific requirements.

Just as there are different smart city models, there are also various options to make a smart station. A station manager, who has to cater for local needs, can adapt parts of the model to their particular context.

A smart station is designed to broaden its area of influence in a smart city, via the networks (transport, energy, digital). A smart station should take into account how its railway business will tie in with not only with key societal but also important business-related issues of the future.

Smart stations should both be able to anticipate and respond systematically and quickly to conflicting uses. Smart stations do everything in their power to ensure the role they play in a city goes beyond being a simple transport hub. This means that stations should be a source of innovation, suited to local specificities, which can add extra value.

Making a station smart is about promoting its legitimate place in a city, as the main mode for long-distance transport. It is also about diversifying a station’s commercial activities, to turn it into a successful business model.


The process of dealing with or controlling things or people with the new information and communication technology. The manager seeks constantly how improve his process, going beyond “classical” actions to create new opportunities and respond to new challenge.

Adding value, either through improved features, through for example better design or use of new technology.

Using new technology to facilitate the flow of individuals and information in time and space, using smart information and communication infrastructure.

Smart Management comes from Smart Governance, which itself is based on the Smart City model. Station management promotes railway business by improving the station’s function, making it more attractive, pleasant and efficient. Smart stations listen to what users and those working in them have to say (station managers, employees, users, political institutions, and other infrastructure managers). Smart management is the station manager’s voluntary effort to broaden the scope of the business, in order to anticipate developments that will come with the next inexorable paradigm change (increasing mass mobility, denser passenger flows, station infrastructure user diversification).

A station manager must simultaneously face several challenges: How to improve staff management? How to improve crown management? How to guarantee and improve station security? How to identify and translate into concrete terms user needs? How to make a station profitable? How to improve the integration of the station into the city? How to improve user experience? How to improve user experience for those using the station every day? What can new technology offer stations?

Of course, station managers already face all these challenges, the question now is how to handle them in a smarter way, and how to improve approaches to move towards sustainable development (in every possible way). If stations are sustainable they will have greater legitimacy, not just in terms of their function, but also in terms of expanding their scope of influence as a stimulus to the economy and society.

To achieve this, station managers need to innovate and harness the potential of new economic drivers in cities, and of new technology.

Why make stations more welcoming?

Making a station more welcoming is about managing the reputation of stations, and improving public relations. Stations are a multimodal hub, a space that facilitates exchange, and is easy to access, and share.

A station is also the image that a city will have of the railways, and so should be exemplary, recognisable and unique. A smart station will be able to draw maximum benefit from this position. Among the best examples of success are Saint Pancras and the Grand Terminal Central in New York. These stations have created Community Managers who operate Instagram accounts. This may appear frivolous, but these accounts are a means to promote stations services and innovations, and a channel for sharing the best stories collected from users. It is an opportunity to the promote the station not only as a component of the railways, but also as a place where it is fun to be. In addition, it is a fabulous marketing tool, available at almost no cost. Followers can send in their comments via the Instagram platform and managers can then respond to their questions and interact with them.

Architecture and public space

Stations should be modelled on their city, unique, attractive, appealing and symbolic. Railway stations have witnessed many revolutions over history (industrial, railways, technological, cultural and historical).

Intuitively, and despite all these changes, it is clear that stations share some universal features, recognisable to all. Based on this premise, architecture is a brilliant tool to reinforce the place of a station within a city.

As mentioned earlier in the manual, the image created by a station is central to the attractiveness of a city, and it is a piece of infrastructure that marks the transition between the city and what lies beyond. Smart stations should contribute to the local economic structure and its design is sometimes a trigger for this.

The city of Bilbao experienced an economic crisis in the 1990s. In order to relaunch the economy, a museum project emerged: that of building the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao. The museum was built in 1997 and is a satellite to the mother establishment in New York. The architecture of this building and its international renown helped Bilbao and its surrounding area emerge from this decline that had lasted several years.

“The GUGGENHEIM effect” was also the seed of success for cities such as Venice, Metz and Lens. All these cities harness the momentum created by similar projects to inject new life into their region. This has been helped by a boom in short-stays that perfectly match the nature of railway transport.

These examples help us realise that stations can play a similar role. Alongside High-speed rail development, railway stations have a structuring potential that needs to be harnessed. To use this momentum however, smart stations need to grow in harmony with the urban space and the economic environment they occupy.

Smart Environment and Smart Design should be taken into account for station construction and renovation projects. The idea of a Smart Environment stems from sustainable development. Smart stations should not be a burden on their surrounding environment. The term ‘environment’ encompasses ecology, society, culture, and the urban environment, but also the functional environment of the station. A Smart station should not be a source of conflict, rather it should help to resolve any tensions that may be a legacy of its history.

Smart Environment is about knowing how to incorporate the station into a viable and sustainable ecological policy. In the current context of excessive energy consumption and wasting of natural resources, smart stations, with the support of smart cities must act.

Smart design is about rethinking infrastructure, buildings and other facilities and equipment that make up smart cities and smart stations. Designer engineers aim to add value to each component constituting a smart station (outside building, internal features, furnishings).

This topic only makes sense if it is part of a collective effort involving all players in the local mobility chain: a station is only one of the cogs in the mobility machine, that depends just as much on other modes of transport as they depend on railways.

Stations are a pivotal hub for transport. Whether in a major urban environment or in a rural setting, stations form the focal point for at least one other mode of transport: the car. In urban areas, stations are frequently also the meeting point for up to three or four other modes of transport too (cars in particular, or chauffeured vehicles, buses, bicycles, trams, metros, Mass Rapid Transport, electro-mobility and pedestrians).

More smart mobility means easier access to railway infrastructure, to improve quality of service. This can be achieved only through cooperation between the relevant players, which does not mean loss of each party’s independence, but rather a more open mind-set, which is more fitting for a smart city.
Cooperation should make it possible to better meet mobility needs.

SMART MOBILITY is above all about facilitating mobility, regardless of individual differences. It is also about having the will to reduce the negative impact of mobility, such as pollution, accidents, congestion, conflict of use (electro-mobility versus pedestrians on pavements). SMART MOBILITY is about offering more sophisticated and more choice in intermodal mobility, by working in association with mobility players, to sharpen the competitive edge against private car use. SMART MOBILITY is also about improving modal shift and setting the stage for a win-win strategy involving mobility players and users.
To achieve this, smart cities and smart stations have to tackle two facets of mobility: information mobility and mobility of individuals. Two independent and yet complementary factors.
Just as a station is an intermodal transport hub, smart stations are also hubs of information exchange for operators, business players and station users. Sharing information is therefore central to this model.

The handbook will be available after the NEXTSTATION conference.

For further information please contact Clément Gautier, UIC Passenger Department:

1 vote

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UIC Handbook on Security in Stations

Railway stations are obviously the beginning and the end of a railway journey, thus they are crucial for the attractivity of the railway system. The services and the appearance of the stations have an essential impact to the satisfaction of the customers as well as to the impression of their cities and regions.

Nowadays, stations (rail stations but also public transport stations) have become favourite places to meet people, go shopping or rest for a while. They constitute important public places throughout the day and when other spaces are closed. This fact makes stations attractive for the development of businesses but also vulnerable from a security point of view.

The aim of the UIC handbook “Station security for station business: handbook on effective solutions” is to develop effective solutions for station security measures as part of station design and management, taking into account their impact on station business elements and customer perception.

Therefore, the International Union of Railways (UIC) established a temporary project group under the participation of members of UIC Station Managers Global Group (SMGG) and UIC Security Platform. The technical support was conducted by Infrastructure Economics Centre (Moscow, Russia).

From March – October 2017, the project group organised several workshops with security and station manager experts to share knowledge and the experience about different types of security measures regarding different station types and situations and to promote the best solutions according to the legal and administrative environment which differs from country to country. A dedicated online survey has been launched by the project group to examine different practices in the field of security provision and the influence of security tools on different areas of station management.

All this information is summarised in the first part of the handbook. It contains the description of over 20 security measures, a cross-analysis of security tools impact on station management, a measure description for each station security tool enabling to minimise the possible negative impact and to stimulate the advantages or benefits for both security and station management as well as suggestions of recommendations for sustainable strategies for the various types of stations. In addition, the handbook includes working and check lists for practical use.

The main results will be presented during the NextStation Conference.

For further information please contact:

Kathrin Faber, Senior Advisor Security Division:

Or Marc Guigon, Senior Advisor Passenger Transport:

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UIC Handbook on Sustainable Stations

Best practices, benchmarking, guidelines and recommendations for Sustainable Stations
Final report

Submitted to UIC by IZT – Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment, Germany and
Macroplan Consulting, Denmark

Sustainable Development is today a broadly accepted strategic concept for responsible politics, economy and the future development of the society as a whole. Within the last decade, more and more influential companies – railway companies among them - have implemented their own sustainability strategies in order to strengthen a future-proof path for their development. Regarding railway stations, there are initiatives and pilot projects for the improvement of the sustainability
performance at pioneering companies. But so far, there is no fully developed and commonly accepted sustainability strategy for railway stations across the sector which would include the definition of strategic objectives, performance indicators and the implementation of a common monitoring system.

Railway stations play an important role in the transportation system and they are developing more and more into mobility hubs with interfaces to the other transport modes and with a broad spectrum of functionalities and offered public and private services. A commonly developed and accepted sustainability strategy for railway stations could strengthen their roles not only in the transportation system but also in the society as a whole and open the way towards a greener, interconnected,
socially more responsible and more efficient mobility and at the time towards more sustainable communities. The ultimate goal of an integrated sustainability strategy is to improve stations’ attractiveness by enhancing customer safety and experience, increasing overall revenues and on top of that reducing negative environmental effects.

The SUSTAIN project wants to contribute to the development of a consensual sustainability strategy for railway stations by disseminating best practice examples and encourage knowledge sharing for all relevant areas of sustainability, providing an easy to use tool for the assessment of the sustainability performance of railway stations, giving recommendations for the practical improvement of the sustainability performance and outlining a future standardization process in this field.

1 vote

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UIC Leaflet: Information in Stations


Scope of application

In stations, passengers should have useful elements and information for their route in the station. These elements constitute the information chain. This information
chain includes every means of communication in the station: wayfinding, timetables screens, sound broadcasting system, information kiosk, maps, internet,
mobile phone, etc.

This leaflet is about wayfinding, its objectives, implantation, implementation and all elements composing it. Structural component of the information and orientation
chain, wayfinding is a core service offered to passengers. It reflects the image and identity of a station or a network. This is why wayfinding should always be coherent and rigorous in its uses.

This leaflet describes principles and instructions to operationalize wayfinding system in order to inform and orientate passengers. These instructions should be applied into station and around it. They also should be applied when an existing wayfinding system has to be modified: changes in the wayfinding charter, station under construction, etc.

National rules and standards should be respected. This leaflet does not concern the field of responsibility covered by the Highway Code. If the indications cover safety equipment, such as emergency exits, etc., the corresponding legal regulations and norms should be complied with.


SMGG (Station Managers Global Group)

Passenger activity represents an increasing business for UIC at global level. Whether on short or long distance, regional, mass transit or high speed, the transport of passengers by rail is an activity with positive expectations for the future. The group is chaired by Mr Carlos Ventura, Director of Passenger Stations at ADIF (Spanish Infrastructure Manager).

Among all the necessary aspects need to develop passenger transport (technology, marketing, ticketing, financing, etc...), the most important common point for rail companies, customers and society are railway stations.

Stations represent a key element in all passenger transport: for different kind of customers (travellers, commuters, passers-by), the station is the only gateway to railway system; for railways, they are sometimes the key to acquiring (or not acquiring) customers. But other than their strategic value for railway systems and for customers, stations represent an important business element and are essential element in city development, especially in the context of the new urban transformations (metropolisation and transit oriented development).

Improving and diversifying the functionality of stations (as a strategic element of railway passenger transport), improving the business concept and opportunities for centres which attract on a daily basis a large volume of potential customers (other than travel purposes) and strengthening the relationship between railway systems and society (increasingly complex) are the main objectives of the UIC Station Managers Global Group.

The benefits of this cooperation for members and for the railway system at global level are a good example of UIC’s philosophy and activities. Over the next four years, SMGG will work on various projects: improved accessibility of information, sustainable railway station programs, security in station and the long-term development of stations aimed at promoting stations in the new urban models of tomorrow.


There’s still time to register for the UIC International “NEXTSTATION” Conference!

Benefit from the latest developments in the Railway Station field and join the 6th International NEXTSTATION 2017 conference, Madrid 2017.

From 19 – 21 October 2017, the Spanish Rail Infrastructure Manager, Adif, together with UIC, will be hosting in Madrid the 6th edition of the UIC NEXTSTATION 2017 Conference, the global reference for leaders and decision-makers to share the latest experiences and best practices regarding the design, financing and operation of railway stations.

This year, after five successful editions, the 6th NEXTSTATION Conference will tackle the key issues under the main theme “Smart Stations in Smart Cities”.
It will provide a unique opportunity for high-level speakers, including decision-makers, representatives of leading industries as well as for stakeholders involved in the city issue and panelists from different fields or backgrounds, to address all strategic issues related to the creation, development and operation of railway stations.

The 2017 NEXTSTATION Conference will address the following themes:

  • Impact of digitalisation on the railway station business
  • Project development and financing
  • Station management
  • Station and urban planning
  • The sustainable, eco-friendly railway station
  • Facilities and design
  • Commercial use of station space and services
  • Multimodality
  • Accessibility
  • Security

Thursday 19 October

9.00 Opening
10.30 Inauguration of the Trade Exhibition
11.00 Smart Stations in a connecting world
14.00 Parallel Session 1a. Solutions for an integrated mobility
Parallel Session 1b. security and privacy
16.00 Parallel Session 2a. Smart Design
Parallel Session 2b. Innovative Management

Friday 20 October

9.00 Parallel Session 3a. Solutions for an integrated mobility
Parallel Session 3b. Accessibility in the information age
11.00 Parallel Session 4a New services for users and customers
Parallel Session 4b. Smart facility management
14.00 Smart Stations. The manager’s perspective.

For further information about the conference programme, please contact Marc Guigon:

Or consult the dedicated website:

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Launch of the book: “Dream Stations, a Worldwide Odyssey”

Save the date: 10 October 2017 at UIC Headquarters

Dream Stations, a Worldwide Odyssey, published by Langages du sud editions, presents a selection of fifty-four of the most beautiful and emblematic rail stations in the world.
This brand-new work was conceived in collaboration with UIC and its members: railway companies from every region of the globe. We visit five continents to discover these historic monuments which are not merely places of transit between trains, but the great witnesses of our time.

These stations are extensions of the urban space, and truly palaces of the modern era. We admire the daring history of certain stations, their grand architecture or simple charm, and the dazzling style of others. Rail stations, symbols of journeys and motion, are the theatre of thousands of lives, from all ages and cultures. Within these pages each rail station, selected from the heart of a city, country or continent, transports the reader to a place of beauty and humanity.

This work also pays homage to rail stations by way of the cinema, as an enduring proof of their universal dimension.

For further information please contact:

3 Votes

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Next meetings scheduled

  • 18-20 October 2017 Statistics Steering Committee Meeting UIC
  • 19-22 October 2017 Next Station Conference Madrid
  • 19 October 2017 Freight Steering Committee
  • 23-28 October 2017 International Railway Safety Council (IRSC) HONG KONG
  • 24-28 October 2017 Intercity & High Speed Committee Plenary meeting Shanghai
  • 24 October 2017 RSF Plenary
  • 25 October 2017 OptiYard TMC Meeting UIC Headquarters
  • 25 October 2017 Optiyard SMC meeting UIC Headquarters
  • 26-27 October 2017 OptiYard Kick-off meeting UIC Headquarters
  • 26-27 October 2017 Expertise Development Platform Rome, Italy
  • 30-31 October 2017 16th UIC Asia-Pacific Management Committee Saint-Petersburg, Russia
  • 30-31 October 2017 Commercial and Distribution Steering Committee Conference Call
  • 30 October 2017 CDF Steering Committee Conference Call
  • 30 October 2017 Commercial and Distribution Forum Steering Committee conference call
  • 31 October 2017 - 1 November 2017 24th UIC Asia-Pacific Regional Assembly Saint-Petersburg, Russia
  • 6 November 2017 Commercial and Distribution Forum plenary meeting Paris
  • 7 November 2017 European Management committee Assistants Paris
  • 7 November 2017 European Group of Assistants Paris
  • 8-10 November 2017 10th APNRTC (Asia-Pacific Network of Railway Training Centres) Chengdu, China
  • 8-9 November 2017 APNRTC (Asia Pacific Network of Rail Training Centres) SWJTU, Chengdu, China
  • 8 November 2017 91st General Assembly Preparatory Group Paris
  • 13-18 November 2017 5th Training on High Speed Systems Level II Madrid
  • 14 November 2017 Safety Platform Steering Group meeting UIC HQ PARIS
  • 15 November 2017 Safety Platform Plenary meeting UIC HQ PARIS
  • 21-24 November 2017 Commuter and regional Training Rome

UIC e-News Legal Editor: Marie Plaud
Coordination: Helen Slaney
Editorial team: UIC e-News Team, Paris 28 September 2017

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