When Train Stations Were the Majestic Temples of Rail Travel

Story here. A good read, but it should have had more photos.

Bangkok has quite a good train station. Hualamphong Train Station. Built in an Italian Renaissance style. Train travel in Thailand is quite nice, but the rail network is somewhat limited, and it’s slower than the bus. But it’s always a good feeling pulling out of or into that station on the train.

I took some personal shots of the Beijing Train Station here and here. And the one in Shanghai here.

One of my favorites is the old Moorish- style Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. You can see another photo on this page. The place is huge! I think it’s used only as a commuter station now, but I remember in October 1999 the wife and I stayed in an old hotel ensconced in this place. There was a youth hostel and an old hotel, and we stayed in the hotel. The wife had flown down to Kuala Lumpur to attend a conference and stayed in a different hotel, and I followed along a few days later at the end, and we checked into that old hotel. It was quite neat. I remember an old bar, too, with cheap Guinness on tap, and I sipped pints at the bar while watching a group of Indians engaged in a darts tournament. They seemed to be two company teams, but all Indians, not a Malay or Chinese among them. I felt part of the Raj, sipping Guinness in this funky old bar and watching these Indians playing darts. But I guess the British in the Raj would not have been watching Indians play darts in their bars, dunno.

The hotel was “elegantly shabby.” We awoke one morning to a thick sheet of ice covering part of one wall, because the air-conditioner had leaked in the night and then froze from the air blowing out. It looked like a glacier. The TV set blew up another night. with a small bang and a puff of smoke. They didn’t have another set to replace it. I had watched my one and only episode of “Friends” on that set. At the end of our stay, we took the train to Singapore, and that was quite handy. We practically just rolled out of bed onto the train. I’ve heard they’ve refurbished the hotel since then.

Montreal’s Windsor Station is no longer a train station, since the Molson Centre (now Bell Centre) was built on the train tracks that served the station. I still think it’s one of the most stunning buildings in the downtown core, though.

Toronto’s Union Station is still quite pretty, although it has seen better days. Cheap, efficient travel expectation of today don’t really mesh well (IMHO) with the styleit was designed with. IIRC, you get onto the trains themselves in a rather ugly modern addition full of signs, advertising and litter.

Hamilton Onario has a couple of interesting stations; LIUNA station, which is no longer a train station, but a reception hall, and the actual train station in the city.

LIUNA kept the architecture and the feel of a wonderful train station, and every time I went there I couldn’t help but think how it must have felt to arrive there back in the day, either on your way onto a train for a journey, or just arrivingfrom one.

I also love the style (Art Moderne?) of Hamilton’s train station which AFAIK only has commuter rail through the Greater Toronto Area, with a VIARail connection at Union Station, or at the very boring Aldershot station just outside of Hamilton’s city limits. This is a shot of the inside of the station, but it’s not a particularly interesting angle.

The region around my hometown doesn’t have any local train service anymore, and it’s sad that a lot of stations have fallen into disuseand disrepair. Some towns between Québec City and Montreal still have VIARail service, though, such as http://i1.trekearth.com/photos/7850/20070502_009.jpg.

I’m not a huge fan of trains, but something about train stations draws me in; think of all the stories that have passed through there in the form of people waiting for loved ones or going off on their own adventures.

Damn. You took mine. The Bangkok train station is the coolest place on earth.

Japanese train stations can be huge – I think that Shinjuku Station is one of the world’s busiest if not biggest, but for the most part their designs are strictly utilitarian. The only exception I can think of is Tokyo Station itself, and then only on the Marunouchi side, which faces the Imperial Palace. It has a bit of “old world” grandeur".

The Sapporo station is the center of what I can only call the most amazing shopping complex I’ve ever seen, with the best kaiten sushi shop in Japan. Hokkaido is good like that with seafood though.

I love DC’s Union Station. Here’s a good pic of the main lobby: http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/washington-dc-city-guide-ga-20.jpg

The station is only a few blocks from the Capitol, and the place has a lot of the grandeur you’d expect of the entrance to the halls of power of the greatest empire the world has ever seen. :smiley: There are even statues of Roman soldiers along the lobby balcony, saluting the Republic. I never miss a chance to visit the place.

Here’s a relevant story for this thread: Thailand by Train: In the Tropics, the Train Is the Thing, from The Telegraph in England.

The Eastern and Oriental is quite pricey, though, I’ll clue ya!

I just love the Chatrapati Sivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) in Mumbai - possibly the finest Victorian building in India.

The restaurant of one of train stations in Paris (Gare de Lyon) Warning : music.
Also, of course, the Musee d’Orsay has been installed in a former train station

Damn, someone already took the Mumbai Station.

How about this preposterous pile right in the middle of London,


This stood empty and under threat of demolition for quite a number of years before someone had the good senes to restore it and bring it to life again.

You can certainly recognise the hand of the original architect in it, other buildings of this style exist elsewhere and are probaly the epitomy of Victorian architecture

New York’s Grand Central Station is quite nice.

Penn Station, however, looks like a shitty shopping mall food court.

Amsterdam’s Centrale Stationis pretty nice too.

That would be George Gilbert Scott,* who also designed the Albert Memorial in Hyde Park–which was also recently rescued from possible demolition and has been restored.
*not to be confused with his grandson, Giles Gilbert Scott–who for his part built Liverpool Cathedral, Battersea Power Station, and the famous, albeit increasingly rare, red telephone boxes.

I passed through the new Berlin Hauptbahnhof (exterior, interior) a few times while it was under construction.

And I have a soft spot for 30th Street Station in Philadelphia. Not long after I moved to Harrisburg, I took the train to Philly. Like a lot of American cities, the tracks run along the backs of buildings, and there’s lots of trash and graffiti. Then you plunge into a sooty darkness underneath the station, but when you come up the steps from the platform, you’re greeted with this.

Oddly for a city with such a grand rail heritage, our Gare Centrale doesn’t look like much; its interior is kind of mundane, and it has no exterior to speak of, being buried amid other buildings. It does have some cool 1940s reliefs.

Quebec City has a very attractive station, though – Gare du Palais.

And no discussion of awesome railway architecture would be complete without Atocha Station in Madrid and Oriente station in Lisbon.

I thought it was lovely when I arrived there in the train from Montréal.

I’ve always liked the station in Dunedin in New Zealand.

Yeah, I like that station. The train ride from NYC to Philly is one of the ugliest I’ve taken. It’s all abandoned industrial buildings and marshes filled with old tires and burnt out cars.

One beautiful station that’s not so well-known is Cincinnati’s Union Terminal – the outside and the inside. Unfortunately, it’s no longer a railway station: it’s been turned into a museum.

:eek: It’s the headquarters of the Justice League of America!

I had no idea that was a real building. It’s amazing.

Can you believe that they tore down the original Penn Station in New York City?



Do metro stations count? - Because the stations on the Moscow Metro are amazing: Mayakovskaya and Park Kultury spring to mind.