Railway platform

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Platform at Rotterdam Centraal station, Netherlands Bloemperk Rotterdam CS.jpg
Platform at Rotterdam Centraal station, Netherlands
Station platforms at Arts et Metiers on Paris Metro Line 11 Boussuge cliche personnel..jpg
Station platforms at Arts et Métiers on Paris Métro Line 11

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.


The world's longest station platform is at Gorakhpur Junction in India at 1,355.40 metres (4,446.9 ft). [1] The Appalachian Trail station in the United States, at the other extreme, has a platform which is only long enough for a single bench. [2]

Among some United States train conductors the word "platform" has entered usage as a verb meaning "to berth at a station", as in the announcement: "The last two cars of this train will not platform at East Rockaway". [3]

Height relative to trains

The most basic form of platform consists of an area at the same level as the track, usually resulting in a fairly large height difference between the platform and the train floor. This would often not be considered a true platform. The more traditional platform is elevated relative to the track but often lower than the train floor, although ideally they should be at the same level. Occasionally the platform is higher than the train floor, where a train with a low floor serves a station built for trains with a high floor, for example at the Dutch stations of the DB Regionalbahn Westfalen (see Enschede). On the London Underground some stations are served by both District line and Piccadilly line trains, and the Piccadilly trains have lower floors.

A tram stop is often in the middle of the street; usually it has as a platform a refuge area of a similar height to that of the sidewalk, e.g. 100 mm (4 in), and sometimes has no platform. The latter requires extra care by passengers and other traffic to avoid accidents. Both types of tram stops can be seen in the tram networks of Melbourne and Toronto. Sometimes a tram stop is served by ordinary trams with rather low floors and metro-like light rail vehicles with higher floors, and the tram stop has a dual-height platform. A railway station may be served by heavy-rail and light-rail vehicles with lower floors and have a dual- height platform, as on the RijnGouweLijn in the Netherlands.

Types of platform

Oslo airport railway station, Platform 0 Oslo airport train station, Platform 0.jpg
Oslo airport railway station, Platform 0
This diagram illustrates different types of platform. Platform 1 is a "bay" platform, while platforms 2, 3 and 4 are "through" platforms. The platform accommodating 3 and 4 is an "island" platform Platform types en.svg
This diagram illustrates different types of platform. Platform 1 is a "bay" platform, while platforms 2, 3 and 4 are "through" platforms. The platform accommodating 3 and 4 is an "island" platform

Platform types include the bay platform, side platform (also called through platform), split platform and island platform. A bay platform is one at which the track terminates, i.e. a dead-end or siding. Trains serving a bay platform must reverse in or out. A side platform is the more usual type, alongside tracks where the train arrives from one end and leaves towards the other. An island platform has through platforms on both sides; it may be indented on one or both ends, with bay platforms. To reach an island platform there may be a bridge, a tunnel, or a level crossing. A variant on the side platform is the spanish solution which has platforms on both sides of a single through track.


Designated platforms or tracks
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In US usage, this station would be described as having three platforms and four tracks (Tracks 1—4). In other English-speaking countries, it would be described as having four platforms (Platforms 1—4).

Most stations have their platforms numbered consecutively from 1; a few stations, including Cardiff Central, Haymarket, King's Cross, Stockport, and Gravesend (in the UK); Uppsala, (Sweden); and Lidcombe, Sydney (Australia), start from 0. At Bristol Temple Meads platforms 3 through to 12 are split along their length with odd numbered platforms facing north and east and even facing south and west, with a small signal halfway along the platform. Some, such as London Waterloo East, use letters instead of numbers (this is to distinguish the platforms from numbered ones in the adjoining Waterloo main-line station for staff who work at both stations); some, such as Paris-Gare de Lyon, use letters for one group of platforms but numbers for the other.

In the US, a designated place where a train can arrive is referred to as a "track" (e.g. "The train is arriving on Track 5"). The term "platform" is also used in the US but refers to the structure rather than a designated place for a train arriving. Therefore, an island platform would be described as one platform with two tracks. In some cases, there are numbered tracks which are used only for through traffic and do not have platform access. In other English-speaking countries, "platform" can refer to both the structure or to a designated place for trains arriving (e.g. "The train is arriving on Platform 5"). Therefore, an island platform might have two numbered platforms.


Some of the station facilities are often located on the platforms. Where the platforms are not adjacent to a station building, often some form of shelter or waiting room is provided, and employee cabins may also be present. The weather protection offered varies greatly, from little more than a roof with open sides, to a closed room with heating or air-conditioning. There may be benches, lighting, ticket counters, drinking fountains, shops, trash boxes, and static timetables or dynamic displays with information about the next train.

There are often loudspeakers as part of a public address (PA) system. The PA system is often used where dynamic timetables or electronic displays are not present. A variety of information is presented, including destinations and times (for all trains, or only the more important long-distance trains), delays, cancellations, platform changes, changes in routes and destinations, the number of carriages in the train and the location of first class or luggage compartments, and supplementary fee or reservation requirements.


Some metro stations have platform screen doors between the platforms and the tracks. They provide more safety, and they allow the heating or air conditioning in the station to be separated from the ventilation in the tunnel, thus being more efficient and effective. They have been installed in most stations of the Singapore MRT and the Hong Kong MTR, and stations on the Jubilee Line Extension in London.

Platforms should be sloped upwards slightly towards the platform edge to prevent wheeled objects such as trolleys, prams and wheelchairs from rolling away and into the path of the train.[ citation needed ] Many platforms have a cavity underneath an overhanging edge so that people who may fall off the platform can seek shelter from incoming trains. A dangerous practice is sitting on the edge of the platform, which requires withdrawing the legs fast enough when a train arrives.

High-speed rail

A train passing at 240 km/h (150 mph) with induced airflow and debris that affect the videographer on the platform

In high-speed rail, passing trains are a significant safety problem as the safe distance from the platform edge increases with the speed of the passing train. A study done by the United States Department of Transportation in 1999 found that trains passing station platforms at speeds of 240 kilometres per hour (150 mph) can pose safety concerns to passengers on the platforms who are 2 metres (6.6 ft) away from the edge due to the aerodynamic effects created by pressure and induced airflow with speeds of 64 kilometres per hour (40 mph) to 95 kilometres per hour (59 mph) depending on the train body aerodynamic designs. Additionally, the airflow can cause debris to be blown out to the waiting passengers. If the passengers stand closer at 1 metre (3.3 ft), the risk increases with airflow that can reach speeds of 79 kilometres per hour (49 mph) to 116 kilometres per hour (72 mph). [4]

Platform barriers on the Berlin-Hamburg high speed line Hamburg berlin track platform barriers.jpg
Platform barriers on the Berlin-Hamburg high speed line

In United Kingdom, a guideline for platform safety specifies that for the platforms with train passing speeds between 160 kilometres per hour (99 mph) and 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph), there should be a yellow-line buffer zone of 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) and other warning signs. If trains can pass at speeds higher than 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph), the platforms should be inaccessible to passengers unless there are waiting rooms or screened areas to provide protection. [5] The European Union has a regulation for platforms that are close to tracks with train passing speeds of 250 kilometres per hour (160 mph) or more should not be accessible to passengers unless there is a lower speed limit for trains that intend to stop at the station or there are barriers to limit access. [6]


A common marking at curved platforms on the London Underground. Mind the gap.jpg
A common marking at curved platforms on the London Underground.

Platforms usually have some form of warnings or measures to keep passengers away from the tracks. The simplest measure is markings near the edge of the platform to demarcate the distance back that passengers should remain. Often a special tiled surface is used as well as a painted line, to help blind people using a walking aid, and help in preventing wheelchairs from rolling too near the platform edge.

In the US, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 regulations require a detectable warning strip 24 inches (61 cm) wide, consisting of truncated dome bumps in a visually-contrasting color, for the full length of the platform. [7]


Ideally platforms should be straight or slightly convex, so that the guard (if any) can see the whole train when preparing to close the doors. Platforms that have great curvature have blind spots that create a safety hazard. Mirrors or closed-circuit cameras may be used in these cases to view the whole platform. Also passenger carriages are straight, so doors will not always open directly onto a curved platform often a platform gap is present. Usually such platforms will have warning signs, possibly auditory, such as London Underground's famous phrase "Mind the gap".

There may be moveable gap filler sections within the platform, extending once the train has stopped and retracting after the doors have closed. The New York City Subway employs these at 14th Street–Union Square on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line and at Times Square on the 42nd Street Shuttle, and formerly at the South Ferry outer loop station on the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line.

In the UK, recent rules require new platforms to be straight.[ citation needed ]

Notable examples

Longest railway platforms

Eastern end of longest platform in Kollam Junction railway station in India. It is the world's second longest railway platform. Kollam Platform's eastern end.jpg
Eastern end of longest platform in Kollam Junction railway station in India. It is the world's second longest railway platform.
  1. Gorakhpur railway station, Uttar Pradesh, India:1,366.33 m (4,483 ft) [8]
  2. Kollam Junction, Kerala, India:1,180.5 m (3,873 ft) [9] [10] [11] [12]
  3. Kharagpur, West Bengal, India: 1,072.5 m (3,519 ft) [13] [14]
  4. State Street subway, Chicago, Illinois, US: 1,067 m (3,501 ft) (longest in North America)
  5. Auto Club Speedway station, Fontana, California, US: 2,675 ft (815 m) [15]
  6. Bilaspur railway station, Chhattisgarh, India: 802 m (2,631 ft)
  7. Cheriton Shuttle Terminal, Kent, United Kingdom: 791 m (2,595 ft) (longest in Europe)
  8. Bern railway station, Bern, Switzerland: 785 m (2,575 ft)
  9. Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India: 770 m (2,526 ft)
  10. East Perth railway station, Perth, Western Australia: 770 m (2,526 ft) (longest in Australia)
  11. Dearborn Street subway, Chicago, Illinois, US 762 m (2,500 ft)
  12. Kalgoorlie railway station, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia: 760 m (2,493 ft)
  13. Sonpur Junction railway station, Sonepur, Bihar, India: 738 m (2,421 ft) [16]
  14. Nabadwip Dham railway station, Nadia, West Bengal, India 720 m (2,362 ft)
  15. Flinders Street railway station, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: 708 m (2,323 ft) [17]
  16. Port Pirie (Mary Elie Street) railway station, South Australia: 701 m (2,300 ft) [18]
  17. Sittard railway station, Netherlands: 700 m (2,297 ft)
  18. 's-Hertogenbosch railway station, Netherlands: 699 m (2,293 ft)
  19. Nijmegen railway station, Netherlands: 699 m (2,293 ft)

Greatest number of platforms

  1. Grand Central Terminal New York City, US: 44
  2. Gare du Nord, France: 35 (31 above ground level + 4 underground)
  3. Chicago Union Station, US: 30
  4. Zhengzhou East railway station, China: 30
  5. London Waterloo station, United Kingdom: 28 (plus 8 at Waterloo tube station)

See also

Related Research Articles

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A train is a form of rail transport consisting of a series of connected vehicles that generally run along a railroad track to transport passengers or cargo. The word "train" comes from the Old French trahiner, derived from the Latin trahere meaning "to pull" or "to draw".

High-speed rail Significantly faster advanced rail transport and infrastructure systems

High-speed rail (HSR) is a type of rail transport that runs significantly faster than traditional rail traffic, using an integrated system of specialized rolling stock and dedicated tracks. While there is no single standard that applies worldwide, new lines in excess of 250 kilometres per hour (160 mph) and existing lines in excess of 200 kilometres per hour (120 mph) are widely considered to be high-speed. The first high-speed rail system, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, began operations in Japan in 1964 and was widely known as the bullet train. High-speed trains normally operate on standard gauge tracks of continuously welded rail on grade-separated right-of-way that incorporates a large turning radius in its design.

Light rail typically an urban form of public transport using steel-tracked fixed guideways

Light rail transit (LRT) is a form of passenger urban rail transit characterized by a combination of tram and metro features. While its rolling stock is more similar to a traditional tram, it operates at a higher capacity and speed, and often on an exclusive right-of-way.

Transrapid German developed high-speed monorail train

Transrapid is a German-developed high-speed monorail train using magnetic levitation. Planning for the Transrapid system started in 1969 with a test facility for the system in Emsland, Germany completed in 1987. In 1991 technical readiness for application was approved by the Deutsche Bundesbahn in cooperation with renowned universities.

Bilevel rail car railway carriage with two levels

The bilevel car or double-decker train is a type of rail car that has two levels of passenger accommodation, as opposed to one, increasing passenger capacity. In some countries such vehicles are commonly referred to as dostos, derived from the German Doppelstockwagen.

Stockholm metro metro system in Stockholm, Sweden

The Stockholm Underground is a rapid transit system in Stockholm, Sweden. The first line opened in 1950, and today the system has 100 stations in use, of which 47 are underground and 53 above ground. There are three coloured main lines on the tube maps. These do however form seven actual routes. Routes numbered 17, 18 and 19, 13 and 14 and 10 and 11 all go through Stockholm City Centre in a very centralized metro system. All seven actual lines use The T-Centralen hub station. Apart from this central station for the metro, there exists just one other interchange between lines, the Fridhemsplan station, although both the green and red lines are mutually accessible at the Slussen and Gamla Stan stations.

Helsinki Metro Greater Helsinki, Finland rapid transit system

The Helsinki Metro is a rapid transit system serving Greater Helsinki, Finland. It is the world's northernmost metro system. The Helsinki Metro was opened to the general public on 2 August 1982 after 27 years of planning. It is operated by Helsinki City Transport for HSL and carries 63 million passengers per year.

Indian Railways Indias national railway system operated by the Ministry of Railways

Indian Railways (IR) is India's national railway system operated by the Ministry of Railways. It is run by the government as a public good and manages the fourth largest railway network in the world by size, with a route length of 95,981-kilometre (59,640 mi) as of March 2019. About 61.62% of the routes are electrified with 25 kV 50 Hz AC electric traction while 33% of them are double or multi-tracked.

Pakistan Railways Government Railway Transport Company

Pakistan Railways is the national, state-owned railway company of Pakistan. Founded in 1861 and headquartered in Lahore, it owns 7,791 kilometres of track across Pakistan from Torkham to Karachi and operates freight and passenger service. Pakistan Railways was also known as the Pakistan Western Railway from 1947 to 1974.

Passing loop short section of track that allows trains to pass on a single track route

A passing loop or passing siding is a place on a single line railway or tramway, often located at or near a station, where trains or trams travelling in opposite directions can pass each other. Trains/trams going in the same direction can also overtake, provided that the signalling arrangement allows it. A passing loop is double-ended and connected to the main track at both ends, though a dead end siding known as a refuge siding, which is much less convenient, can be used. A similar arrangement is used on the gauntlet track of cable railways and funiculars, and in passing places on single-track roads.

Various terms are used for passenger railway lines and equipment; the usage of these terms differs substantially between areas:

Level junction Type of railway junction

A level junction is a railway junction that has a track configuration in which merging or crossing railroad lines provide track connections with each other that require trains to cross over in front of opposing traffic at grade.

Rail transport in the Netherlands

Rail transport in the Netherlands uses a dense railway network which connects nearly all major towns and cities. There are as many train stations as there are municipalities in the Netherlands. The network totals 3,223 route km on 6,830 kilometres of track; a line may run both ways, or two lines may run on major routes. Three-quarters of the lines have been electrified.

Tenerife Tram tram service located in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Tenerife Tram is a light rail or tram service located on the island of Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands (Spain). It is operated by Metropolitano de Tenerife, a limited company now 100% owned by the Cabildo of Tenerife. Service started on 2 June 2007 over a 12.5-kilometre (7.8 mi) route which linked the Intercambiador in Santa Cruz de Tenerife with Avenida de la Trinidad in La Laguna. A second line between La Cuesta and Tíncer opened in 2009. It is the only existing tramway or train in the Canary Islands.

Railway platform height

Railway platform height is the built height – above top of rail (ATR) – of passenger platforms at stations. A connected term is train floor height, which refers to the ATR height of the floor of rail vehicles. Worldwide, there are many, frequently incompatible, standards for platform heights and train floor heights. Where raised platforms are in use, train widths must also be compatible, in order to avoid both large gaps between platform and trains and mechanical interference liable to cause equipment damage.

Express trains in India Rail Services provided by IRCTC

Express trains are express rail services of India. Express trains make a small number of stops, unlike ordinary passenger or local trains. Because of their limited stops, these trains are able to obtain the highest speeds of any trains in India. An express train is one where the average speed, excluding halts, is greater than 36 km/h. Including halts the speed may sometimes fall into the region of around 20 km/h for express trains. In some cases, trains run express where there is overlapping local train service available, and run local at the tail ends of the line, where there is no supplemental local service.

Jhansi Junction railway station

Jhansi Junction is a major railway junction in the city of Jhansi in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. It is one of the busiest and largest railway stations in India. It is a major intercity hub and a technical stoppage for many superfast trains in India. Jhansi has its own division in the North Central Railway zone of Indian Railways. It lies on the main Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Mumbai line. The station code is JHS. The Station Director is Girish Kanchan. Vivaan Solar, a Gwalior based company has won contract to install a total of 1.5 MW rooftop solar power project at the wagon repair workshop of Jhansi Junction railway station. The company will install rooftop solar panels on production sheds and service buildings of the complex.

Gorakhpur Junction railway station Railway station in Uttar Pradesh India

The Gorakhpur Railway Station is located in the city of Gorakhpur in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It has the world's longest railway platform. It serves as the headquarters of the North Eastern Railway. The station offers Class A-1 railway station facilities.

Rail transport in China railway transport in the Peoples Republic of China

Rail transport is an important mode of long-distance transportation in China. As of 2015, the country has 121,000 km (75,186 mi) of railways, the second longest network in the world. By the end of 2018, China had 29,000 kilometres of high-speed rail (HSR), the longest HSR network in the world.[4]

Types of Trams


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  3. NY Times 18 May 1986
  4. Lee, Harvey Shui-Hong (December 1999). Assessment of Potential Aerodynamic Effects on Personnel and Equipment in Proximity to High-Speed Train Operations (PDF). United States Department of Transportation. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  5. Guidance on Interface between Station Platforms, Track and Trains (PDF) (2 ed.). Rail Safety and Standards Board Limited. March 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  6. 2002/732/EC: Commission Decision of 30 May 2002 concerning the technical specification for interoperability relating to the infrastructure subsystem of the trans-European high-speed rail system referred to in Article 6(1) of Council Directive 96/48/EC (Official Journal L 245 ed.). The European Union. 9 December 2002. pp. 143–279. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  7. 2010 ADA Standards, US Department of Justice, Sections 710.5, 810
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  11. Walsh, Ben (2 November 2014). "West Bengal: tea plantations and other Raj-era relics". The Independent.
  12. "Malayala Manorama Daily(Kollam Edition 22/02/2015)" . Retrieved 2015-02-22.
  13. "Trivia". IRFCA. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  14. "Indian Railway Facts". iloveindia. Retrieved 2012-01-21.
  15. SMA Rail Consulting (April 2016). "California Passenger Rail Network Schematics" (PDF). California Department of Transportation.
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  17. Melbourne Crime Tours - Go West Tours Melbourne Archived April 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
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