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Railway Stations: Planning, Design and Management

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Edited by Julian Ross. Architectural Press (Oxford). 360pp, £55

In general, books about train station architecture refer to the main hubs: Waterloo International rather than Bristol Parkway; Brief Encounter rather than Oh, Mr Porter. It is good, therefore, to see a book that gives as much critical weight to the smaller stations as to the larger. In Railway Stations, the authors aim to present an 'intuitively straightforward'assessment of current successes and deficiencies in station facilities, recognising that these structures will have to survive long into the future to cater for presently indeterminate travel needs.

Railway Stations is the result of a methodical examination of existing stations - including underground and light-rail facilities - using (basic) photographs and applying simple common-sense to their constructive critique. A lot of what is presented is undoubtedly obvious, were we to think about it. This book has taken the trouble on our behalf (although the author seems to like the current fad for flat-screen liquid crystal display boards at the expense of long-range visibility).

Like Modern Trains are Splendid Stations, this book examines the idea of the station as a new arena of consumption. I was thinking about this while waiting on the concourse of King's Cross Station when a local train started up and filled the entire cafe with diesel particulates.The illusion that we were indulging in a European-cafe cultural revolution was shattered.

Everyone got up and went indoors and I was at once reminded of early motorists picnicking in lay-bys at the side of motorways.

At present, 'the potential symbiotic nature of commercial development and the core transport product' remains elusive; and I'm not sure whether this is what integrating transport facilities into the urban fabric is about.

While indulging the hype, this book goes someway to realising that there is more to it than Starbucks.

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