From the steam-powered locomotives of the 19th century to the sleek, high-speed trains of the 21st century, trains have been an important part of human history for over two centuries, revolutionising transportation and changing the way we live, work, and connect with each other.
At the heart of this interconnected web of rail lines, lies the humble train station. Far from being just a place to catch a ride, train stations are hubs of activity and energy, where people from all walks of life come together to embark on new journeys and explore new possibilities
Many of the world’s oldest train stations have withstood the test of time and remain in operation today, reflecting the history and character of the places they serve.
Here we take a look at 5 of the oldest train stations in the world:
1. Liverpool Road Station, Manchester, UK
Opened in 1830, Liverpool Road Station in Manchester is the oldest surviving railway terminus in the world.
The station was originally built to serve as the terminus for the Manchester and Liverpool Railway, the world’s first inter-city passenger railway, in which all services were hauled by timetabled steam locomotives.
It was in operation for nearly 160 years before being closed in 1975, and today serves as part of the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, showcasing the history of the railway industry in the UK and highlighting Manchester’s key role in the industrial revolution.
2. Leipzig Bayerischer Bahnhof, Leipzig, Germany
Opened in 1842, Leipzig Bayerischer Bahnhof served as the terminus of the first long-distance railway line in Germany, connecting Leipzig with the city of Altenburg. It was designed by the German architect, Ernst Gotthilf, and features a distinctive blend of classical and industrial architectural elements.
Today, Leipzig Bayerischer Bahnhof serves as a hub for regional and local trains, and is known for its historic connections to the brewing industry. The Bayerischer Bahnhof restaurant located inside the station, is famous for its Gose beer, a type of beer that originated in Leipzig which is brewed on site using a traditional recipe.
3. Gare de l’Est, Paris, France
One of the six major railway stations in France’s capital, Gare de l’Est was opened in 1849 and connects Paris to destinations in northeastern France, Germany, Luxembourg, and beyond.
The station is known for its distinctive architecture, with a large clock tower and an ornate facade featuring sculptures and reliefs, making it a notable landmark in the city.
During World War One, the station was an important departure point for French soldiers heading to the front lines, and a statue of a soldier was placed in the station’s main hall to honour their service.
4. Stralsund Hauptbahnhof, Stralsund, Germany
Opened in 1863, Stralsund Hauptbahnhof is the main railway station in the Hanseatic city of Stralsund, in the northeastern part of Germany.
An impressive example of 19th century railway architecture, the station was built in the neoclassical style and features a large central hall with a high ceiling and large windows that let in plenty of natural light.
Today, the station is a major transportation hub for the city with passengers able to travel to destinations throughout Germany and beyond, including Berlin, Hamburg, Rostock, and Copenhagen, Denmark. The station is also connected to local bus and tram lines, making it easy to access other parts of the city and the surrounding region.
5. St. Pancras International Station, London, UK
Designed in the Victorian Gothic style and opened in 1868, St. Pancras International was originally built to serve as the London terminus for the Midland Railway.
It is a magnificent example of Victorian architecture, and its famous train shed spans 243 feet, making it one of the largest single-span structures in the world.
Today, it serves as a major transportation hub for the city, connecting London to other parts of the UK and continental Europe. It also holds the magnificent St Pancras Renaissance London Hotel, once the Midland Grand Hotel, and the world’s longest champagne bar!