Railroad Terminal

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Railroad Terminal


a building or complex of buildings, installations, and equipment at stopping points on railroads for serving passengers, controlling train traffic, and accommodating service personnel. Some railroad terminals handle significant amounts of freight, mail, and baggage.

A railroad terminal is always a part of a railroad station and of a so-called terminal complex, which, in addition to a passenger building, includes the station grounds and platforms. The amount of work a railroad terminal does is determined by its traffic capacity and the volume it can accommodate at any one time. Railroad terminals are classified in terms of work volume as small (up to 200 passengers), medium (from 200 to 900), large (900 to 1,500), and unclassified (more than 1,500). In relation to the platform, railroad terminals can be located alongside the tracks, with platforms in between through tracks; they can be of the dead-end type, located at the end of a set of tracks and platforms or of the island type, situated between railroad lines. Except for the dead-end type, these terminals have pedestrian tunnels or overpasses linking the main passenger facilities with the platforms that are separated from the terminal by tracks. Pedestrian tunnels are 3.5 to 4.0 m below the track level, and overpasses are 6.0 to 7.0 m above the tracks.

All railroad terminals have to provide for separating opposing and intersecting streams of passengers and for routing passengers and transportation. These ends are achieved by the planned location of basic groups of facilities, as well as by the use of large concourse halls for dispersing crowds, including underground halls situated beneath the railroad tracks (the railroad terminal in Riga) or halls above ground level and above the railroad tracks (the railroad terminal in Cheliabinsk). Sometimes both of these methods are combined (the railroad terminal in Kiev).

The main building of a railroad terminal usually consists of three zones or groups of facilities: an operations zone (including vestibules, ticket halls, the information area, premises for checking and claiming baggage, and premises for postal and telegraph services), a zone for waiting rooms and travel services (including halls and rooms for long waiting, rooms for mothers and children, restaurants and cafés, and booths), and a zone used for technical-service and auxiliary premises. Large railroad terminals have ticket-vending machines and automatic changemakers and a system of television displays and light panels for providing information on arriving and departing transportation. The transfer of baggage is mechanized. A considerable proportion of small and mediumsized railroad terminals in the USSR are being built from standardized plans. Individual plans are required as a rule for the large and unclassified terminals.

In order to provide orderly service to constantly growing streams of passengers and to facilitate transfer operations, railroad terminals are often linked to the passenger buildings and facilities of other types of transportation, thus forming integrated terminals (mainly railroad and bus terminals), and they are also coordinated with institutions providing conveniences and services (such as hotels, cafe-restaurants, and tourist agencies). In foreign practice, terminals are often integrated with a variety of facilities, including post offices, shopping centers, department stores, large garages and other parking facilities, and large administrative and other complexes of buildings accommodating large numbers of people. Because of this the role of railroad terminals in the architecture and planning of a city is growing.

Plans for railroad terminals took shape as far back as the 1860’s, when the vestibule and ticket halls were placed in the central area with its high-ceilinged main entrance hall, with waiting rooms and service areas in side wings. The use of metal structural parts made it possible to build spacious halllike premises at railroad stations, which exerted a great influence on architectural appearance (the railroad station at St. Pancras in London, 1868–74, designed by the architects G. G. Scott and W. Barlow, and the Anhalt Station in Berlin, 1871–82, now destroyed, designed by the architect F. Schwechten). The facades and interiors of railroad terminals in the 19th and early 20th century were often lavishly and eclectically decorated (the railroad terminal in Odessa, 1879–83, now destroyed, designed by the architect V. A. Shrëter). The architectural appearance of modern railroad terminals is determined largely by vast operations halls, which are covered for the most part by large precast or monolithic reinforced-concrete structures.


Vasil’ev, E. V., and N. N. Shchetinin. Arkhitektura zheleznodorozhnykh vokzalov. Moscow, 1967.
Golubev, G. E., G. M. Andzhelini, and A. F. Modorov. Sovremennye vokzaly. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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