Train stations, once quaint and archaic expressions of architecture and beauty, are becoming the bustling nerve centers of many of the world’s largest cities. Train travel is convenient and can be much easier than traveling by car or bus, but that does not mean it doesn’t come with a cost. Train travel makes it easy to connect parts of city, region, town or country. However, of the many train stations in the world, there are quite a few that currently run at full capacity.
More people than ever are traveling by train. As the transportation infrastructure continues to be tested, a number of major train stations around the world are nearing their maximum capacity. This development has led many stations to add new lines, platforms, and trains to help cope with the influx of passengers.
Shinjuku Station – Tokyo
Of the world’s 51 busiest train stations, all but six are located in Japan. Connecting central Tokyo with the western suburbs, Shinjuku station was built to handle 3.5 million passengers. It has 10 platforms, 20 tracks, and five stations located within the hub. It is currently ranked as the largest train station in the world, and there are plans in the works to add a high-speed connecting line. This train station is enormous and can be difficult for some travelers, but it generally runs on time.
Shibuya Station – Tokyo
A close second to its sister station Shinjuku, Shibuya serves just under 2.5 million passengers annually. Many of the station’s train travelers are commuters coming in from the suburbs to Tokyo during the workweek. Opened over 100 years ago, Shibuya is owned jointly by three different companies and ranks as the busiest train station to connect to subway travel.
Zurich Hauptbahnhof – Zurich, Switzerland
Almost 3,000 trains pass through this station daily, making it one of the busiest and most well traveled stations in the European Union. It is set between two rivers and has a busy tram stop right in front of it. It is the largest railway in Switzerland and serves as a major train travel hub for the rest of the EU with service to most neighboring countries. There are 26 tracks that serve almost 155 million passengers a year. There are currently projects in development to handle the large influx of passengers.
Gare du Nord – Paris
The Station of the North is one of the six large end-line train stations in Paris, and it serves almost 200 million travelers annually. Following a major expansion in 1964, there are currently 44 full service platforms, making it the second-largest station in the EU. In addition to serving international lines, this train station also serves regional and national routes and bus routes. There are currently two subway lines. To handle the large influx of train travel passengers, there are plans underway to build a train corridor between the Station of the North and the Station of the East.
Penn Station – New York City
In less than two minutes, Penn Station serves almost 1,000 passengers. It is one of the busiest train stations in all of North America, connecting the biggest city in the United States with many cities along the Eastern Seaboard. Serving as a connecting hub for the remainder of the country, there are plans to add many regional routes and Amtrak trains, which will increase the overall load of train travel coming into and out of the station. There are plans to expand Penn Station to be able to send off 33 trains every hour.
Union Station – Toronto, Canada
An international station, Union Station serves over 2 million train travel passengers every day. Classified as a national historic site, Union Station is considered one of the most exquisite examples of Beaux-Arts. The train station is protected under an agreement that mitigates the changes that can be done to the station. The city of Toronto officially owns the station and can make the final decision on what enhancements and changes happen to it. The train station connects with the city subway, making it an easy choice for commuters and visitors.
Train stations around the world are seeking new and innovative ways to handle the increasing popularity of train travel. As the expansion projects continue to develop, many of the travelers in these train stations will have to contend with travel delays and construction, but the result—more trains and more extensive schedules—will be worth it.