Island platform

Last updated
Beecroft railway station in Sydney, Australia, is an island-platform station in the middle of a reverse curve.
This platform is accessed by an underpass. Beecroftstationsyd.jpg
Beecroft railway station in Sydney, Australia, is an island-platform station in the middle of a reverse curve.
This platform is accessed by an underpass.

An island platform (also center platform, centre platform) is a station layout arrangement where a single platform is positioned between two tracks within a railway station, tram stop or transitway interchange. [1] Island platforms are popular on twin-track routes due to pragmatic and cost reasons. They are also useful within larger stations where local and express services for the same direction of travel can be provided from opposite sides of the same platform thereby simplifying transfers between the two tracks. An alternative arrangement is to position side platforms on either side of the tracks. The historical use of island platforms depends greatly upon the location. In the United Kingdom the use of island platforms is relatively common when the railway line is in a cutting or raised on an embankment, as this makes it easier to provide access to the platform without walking across the tracks.


Advantages and tradeoffs

Island platforms are necessary for any station with many through platforms. There are also advantages to building small two-track stations with a single island platform instead of two side platforms. Island platforms allow facilities such as shops, toilets and waiting rooms to be shared between both tracks rather than being duplicated or present only on one side. An island platform makes it easier for disabled travellers to change services between tracks or access facilities. If the tracks are above or below the entrance level, the station needs only one staircase and (if disabled accessibility is necessary) one elevator or ramp to allow access to the platforms. If the tracks are at the same level as the entrance, this instead creates a disadvantage; a side platform arrangement allows one platform to be adjacent to the entrance, whereas an island platform arrangement requires both tracks to be accessed by a bridge or underpass.

If an island platform is not wide enough to cope with passenger numbers, overcrowding can be a problem. Examples of stations where a narrow island platform has caused safety issues include Clapham Common and Angel (rebuilt in 1992) on the London Underground, Union (now[ when? ] rebuilt) on the Toronto subway, and Umeda on the Osaka Municipal Subway.

An island platform requires the tracks to diverge around the center platform, and extra width is required along the right-of-way on each approach to the station, especially on high-speed lines. Track centers vary for rail systems throughout the world but are normally 3 to 5 metres. If the island platform is 6 metres wide, the tracks must slew out by the same distance. While this requirement is not a problem on a new line under construction, it makes building a new station on an existing line impossible without altering the tracks. A single island platform also makes it quite difficult to have through tracks (used by trains that do not stop at that station), which are usually between the local tracks (where the island would be).

Clapham Common station on the London Underground's Northern line Clapham Common Tube Station Platforms - Oct 2007.jpg
Clapham Common station on the London Underground's Northern line
Fast and slow tracks
BSicon SHI4+rq-.svg
BSicon STRq-.svg
BSicon -BS.svg
BSicon STRq-.svg
BSicon -BS.svg
BSicon STRq-.svg
BSicon -BS.svg
BSicon SHI4rq-.svg
BSicon vCONTgfaq.svg
BSicon -SHI4grq.svg
BSicon SHI4glq-.svg
BSicon vSTRq.svg
BSicon vSTRq.svg
BSicon vSTRq.svg
BSicon -SHI4g+rq.svg
BSicon SHI4g+lq-.svg
BSicon vCONTgfeq.svg
BSicon -SHI4+lq.svg
BSicon -STRq.svg
BSicon BS-.svg
BSicon -STRq.svg
BSicon BS-.svg
BSicon -STRq.svg
BSicon BS-.svg
BSicon -SHI4lq.svg
Four tracks and two island platforms

A common configuration in busy locations on high speed lines is a pair of island platforms, with slower trains diverging from the main line (or using a separate level on the railway's right-of-way) so that the main line tracks remain straight. High-speed trains can therefore pass straight through the station, while slow trains pass around the platforms (such as at Kent House in London). This arrangement also allows the station to serve as a point where slow trains can be passed by faster trains. A variation at some stations is to have the slow and fast pairs of tracks each served by island platforms (as is common on the New York City Subway; the Broad Street Line of Philadelphia; and the Chicago Transit Authority's Red and Purple lines).

The Mets-Willets Point station on the NYC Subway's IRT Flushing Line (7 Train), showing its island platform sandwiched between its two side platforms. Mets Willets Pt td (2019-05-26) 05.jpg
The Mets-Willets Point station on the NYC Subway's IRT Flushing Line (7 Train), showing its island platform sandwiched between its two side platforms.

A rarer layout, present at Mets-Willets Point on the IRT Flushing Line, 34th Street – Penn Station on the IRT Seventh Avenue Line and 34th Street – Penn Station on the IND Eighth Avenue Line of the New York City Subway, uses two side platforms for local services with an island in between for express services. The purpose of this atypical design was to reduce unnecessary passenger congestion at a station with a high volume of passengers. Since the IRT Seventh Avenue Line and IND Eighth Avenue Line have adjacent express stations at 42nd Street, passengers can make their transfers from local to express trains there, leaving more space available for passengers utilizing intercity rail at Pennsylvania Station. The Willets Point Boulevard station was renovated to accommodate the high volume of passengers coming to the 1939 World's Fair.


Many of the stations on the Great Central Railway in England (now almost entirely closed) were constructed in this form. This was because the line was planned to connect to a Channel Tunnel. If this happened, the lines would need to be compatible with continental loading gauge, and this would mean it would be easy to change the line to a larger gauge, by moving the track away from the platform to allow the wider bodied continental rolling stock to pass freely while leaving the platform area untouched.

Island platforms are a very normal sight on Indian railway stations. Almost all railway stations in India consist of island platforms.


In Sydney, on the Eastern Suburbs Railway and the Epping Chatswood Railway, the twin tunnels are widely spaced and the tracks can remain at a constant track centres while still leaving room for the island platforms. A slight disadvantage is that crossovers have to be rather long. Examples in Melbourne include West Footscray, Middle Footscray, Albion and Tottenham on the Sunbury line, and Watsonia and Heidelberg on the Hurstbridge line.


In Toronto, 29 subway stations use island platforms (a few in the newer stations on the Bloor–Danforth line, a few on the Yonge–University line and all of the Sheppard line).

In Edmonton, all 18 LRT stations on the Capital Line and Metro Line use island platforms. The Valley Line under construction, utilizes the new low-floor LRT technology, but will only use island platforms on one of the twelve stops along the line.


Almost all of the elevated stations in Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system use island platforms. The exceptions are Dover MRT station and Canberra MRT station, which use side platforms as they are built on an existing rail line, also known as an infill station. Gul Circle uses a stacked island platform configuration. The same follows for underground stations, with the exception being Braddell MRT station, and a few stations on the Downtown Line (Stevens, Downtown, Telok Ayer, Chinatown and MacPherson) and the Thomson-East Coast Line (Napier, Maxwell, Shenton Way and Marina Bay)

United States

In southern New Jersey and Philadelphia, PATCO uses island platforms in all of its 13 stations, to facilitate one-person train operation. The NYC Subway's Second Avenue Subway features island platforms at all stations. [2] Many other stations in the system have the same layout.

Unused sides of island platforms

Sometimes when the track on one side of the platform is unused by passenger trains, that side may be fenced off. Examples include Hurlstone Park, Lewisham, Sydney and Yeronga, Brisbane.

In New York City's subway system, unused sides are located at Bowling Green as well as every express station without express service, such as Pelham Parkway on the IRT Dyre Avenue line. In Jersey City, the Newport PATH station has the same configuration as Bowling Green—one side platform and one island platform.

On the Tokyo Metro, the Ginza Line has a side platform and an island platform at Nihombashi. Likewise, the Namba and Minami-morimachi stations on the Osaka Metro have similar configurations. On JR East, the Yokosuka Line platforms at Musashi-Kosugi will feature a similar setup when a new side platform opens in December 2022. [3]

Some stations of the Glasgow Subway have one island platform and one side platform (Hillhead, Buchanan Street, and Ibrox).

In Wellington, New Zealand, unused sides can be found at two stations on the Hutt Valley Line: Waterloo and Petone. Waterloo's island platform was reconfigured to be the down side platform when the station was extensively rebuilt in the late 1980s, with the unused side now facing onto a bus bay. Petone's island platform served the up main line and the suburban loop line until the suburban loop was lifted in the early 1990s. The unused platform now faces onto the station's park-and-ride carpark.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Railway platform</span> Fixed structure to allow people to board or alight trains

A railway platform is an area alongside a railway track providing convenient access to trains. Almost all stations have some form of platform, with larger stations having multiple platforms.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cross-platform interchange</span> Transfer station design

A cross-platform interchange is a type of interchange between different lines at a metro station. The term originates with the London Underground; such layouts exist in other networks but are not commonly so named. In the United States, it is often referred to as a cross-platform transfer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Proposed expansion of the New York City Subway</span> History of New York City Subway expansion plans

Since the opening of the original New York City Subway line in 1904, and throughout the subway's history, various official and planning agencies have proposed numerous extensions to the subway system. The first major expansion of the subway system was the Dual Contracts, a set of agreements between the City of New York and the IRT and the BRT. The system was expanded into the outer reaches of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, and it provided for the construction of important lines in Manhattan. This one expansion of the system provided for a majority of today's system.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Nevins Street station</span> New York City Subway station in Brooklyn

The Nevins Street station is an express station on the IRT Eastern Parkway Line of the New York City Subway. Located at the intersection of Nevins Street, Flatbush Avenue, and Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn, it is served by the 2 and 4 trains at all times, the 3 train all times except late nights, and the 5 train on weekdays only.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New York City Subway stations</span> Rapid transit system in New York City

The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system that serves four of the five boroughs of New York City, New York: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Its operator is the New York City Transit Authority, which is itself controlled by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York. In 2015, an average of 5.65 million passengers used the system daily, making it the busiest rapid transit system in the United States and the 11th busiest in the world.

The IRT Lexington Avenue Line is one of the lines of the A Division of the New York City Subway, stretching from Lower Manhattan north to 125th Street in East Harlem. The line is served by the 4, ​5, ​6, and <6> trains.

The IRT Dyre Avenue Line is a New York City Subway rapid transit line, part of the A Division. It is a branch of the IRT White Plains Road Line in the northeastern section of the Bronx, north of East 180th Street. As of 2013, it has a daily ridership of 34,802.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">MRT Line 3 (Metro Manila)</span> Rail line in Manila, Philippines

The Metro Rail Transit Line 3, also known as the MRT Line 3, MRT-3 or Metrostar Express, is a light rapid transit system line of Metro Manila, Philippines. Originally referred to as the Blue Line, MRT Line 3 was reclassified to be the Yellow Line in 2012. The line runs in an orbital north to south route following the alignment of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Although it has the characteristics of light rail, such as with the type of rolling stock used, it is more akin to a rapid transit system owing to its total grade separation and high passenger throughput.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rail transportation in the Philippines</span> Overview of rail transport in the Philippines

Rail transportation in the Philippines is currently used mostly to transport passengers within Metro Manila and provinces of Laguna and Quezon, as well as a commuter service in the Bicol Region. Freight transport services once operated in the country, but these services were halted. However, there are plans to restore old freight services and build new lines. From a peak of 1,100 kilometers (680 mi), the country currently has a railway footprint of 533.14 kilometers (331.28 mi), of which only 129.85 kilometers (80.69 mi) are operational as of 2022, including all the urban rail lines. World War II, natural calamities, underspending, and neglect have all contributed to the decline of the Philippine railway network. In the 2019 Global Competitiveness Report, the Philippines has the lowest efficiency score among other Asian countries in terms of efficiency of train services, receiving a score of 2.4, and ranking 86th out of 101 countries globally. The government is currently expanding the railway network up to 1,900 kilometers (1,200 mi) by 2022 through numerous projects.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Platform screen doors</span> Doors separating rail platforms from tracks

Platform screen doors (PSDs), also known as platform edge doors (PEDs), are used at some train, rapid transit and people mover stations to separate the platform from train tracks, as well as on some bus rapid transit, tram and light rail systems. Primarily used for passenger safety, they are a relatively new addition to many metro systems around the world, some having been retrofitted to established systems. They are widely used in newer Asian and European metro systems, and Latin American bus rapid transit systems.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">96th Street station (IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line)</span> New York City Subway station in Manhattan

The 96th Street station is an express station on the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line of the New York City Subway. Located at the intersection of 96th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, it is served by the 1, 2, and 3 trains at all times.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eastchester–Dyre Avenue station</span> New York City Subway station in the Bronx

The Eastchester–Dyre Avenue station is the northern terminal station of the IRT Dyre Avenue Line of the New York City Subway, at Dyre Avenue and Light Street in the Eastchester neighborhood of the Bronx. It is served by the 5 train at all times.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Platform gap filler</span> Movable platform edge extensions at subway or railway stations

Platform gap fillers are movable platform edge extensions at subway or railway stations where the curvature of the platform creates a significant gap between the platform and subway or train car door.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center station</span> New York City Subway station complex in Brooklyn

The Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center station is a New York City Subway station complex shared by the BMT Fourth Avenue Line, the BMT Brighton Line and the IRT Eastern Parkway Line, located at Atlantic, Fourth, and Flatbush Avenues and Pacific Street in Downtown Brooklyn. The complex is served by the 2, 4, D, N, Q and R trains at all times; the 3 train at all times except late nights; the 5 and B trains during weekdays; and a few rush-hour W trains.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of rapid transit</span> Overview of the global rapid transition

The history of rapid transit began in London with the opening of the Metropolitan Railway, which is now part of the London Underground, in 1863. By World War I, electric underground railways were being used in Athens, Berlin, Boston, Buenos Aires, Budapest, Glasgow, Hamburg, Istanbul, Liverpool, New York City, Paris, and Philadelphia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Early history of the IRT subway</span> First New York City Subway line

The first regularly operated subway in New York City was opened on October 27, 1904, and was operated by the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT). The early IRT system consisted of a single trunk line below 96th Street in Manhattan, running under Broadway, 42nd Street, Park Avenue, and Lafayette Street. The line had three northern branches in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, and a southern branch to Brooklyn. The system had four tracks between Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall and 96th Street, allowing for local and express service. The original line and early extensions consisted of:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sedgwick Avenue station</span> New York City Subway station in The Bronx (closed 1958)

The Sedgwick Avenue station was an elevated, ground level and underground station on the Bronx extension of the IRT Ninth Avenue Line in Highbridge, Bronx, New York City.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Split platform</span> Railway station with a platform for each track, but on different levels

A split platform is a station that has a platform for each track, split onto two or more levels. This configuration allows a narrower station plan horizontally, at the expense of a deeper vertical elevation, because sets of tracks and platforms are stacked above each other. Where two rails lines cross or run parallel for a time, split platforms are sometimes used in a hybrid arrangement that allows for convenient cross-platform interchange between trains running in the same general direction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall/Chambers Street station</span> New York City Subway station complex in Manhattan

The Brooklyn Bridge–City Hall/Chambers Street station is a New York City Subway station complex in Lower Manhattan. The complex is served by trains of the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and the BMT Nassau Street Line. The station is served by the 4, 6, and J trains at all times; the 5 train at all times except late nights; the ⟨6⟩ train on weekdays in the peak direction; and the Z train during rush hours in the peak direction.


  1. "Island Platform". Railway-Technical. 2007-05-30. Archived from the original on 2007-06-09. Retrieved 2020-08-12.
  2. "Second Avenue Subway Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), May 2004 Figure 2-4 Track Diagram, North of 55th Street" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. May 2004. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  3. "JR武蔵小杉駅、横須賀線の新ホーム供用開始 - 新規改札口も設置へ" [JR Musashi-Kosugi Station, Yokosuka Line New Platform Opens - New Ticket Gates to be Installed]. Mynavi Corporation (in Japanese). 16 September 2022. Archived from the original on 16 September 2022. Retrieved 18 September 2022.