An integral part of any rail system in the world is the stations themselves. The locomotives standing on the tracks are seldom examined closely by the average train passenger, but the platform and the adjacent infrastructure is judged with quite a bit of scrutiny.
It doesn’t even necessarily matter how old or historic the train or subway station is. The New York subway is impressively old, but is in terrible disrepair. The operation itself is vast and highly impressive, but the space within which people get on and off trains is simply woeful. Take the Moscow metro as a comparison. Back in the days of the early Soviet Union, the leadership saw the capital’s metro system as a tool for propaganda, making the platform into pieces of art to rival the interiors of churches (which was partly the point). But if we are talking about a supreme example of modernity, efficiency and convenience, few train stations or transportation hubs can rival the Netherlands’ Utrecht Centraal.
It first opened in December of 1843, and throughout the decades remained an active and important transportation hub in the country. In recent years Utrecht Centraal underwent a major renovation and modernisation. This railway station is the heart of Netherlands’ rail network. The new interior of the station boasts incredible spaciousness and tasteful lighting. Even though the structure is concrete and steel, it still somehow manages to feel cosy. Specially designated areas for commerce are neatly located in places of high foot traffic, without being an obstruction to the flow of people. The small cafes are overlooking the rail platform itself, making it an attractive space, even if you’re not there to catch a train.
The Utrecht Centraal is one of the most accessible train stations you’ll find anywhere. The station itself is multi-story, and you have a choice of either escalator or elevator at every entry point, so even people with limited mobility will feel perfectly fine here. The truly unique aspect of this railways station is that it is a transportation hub in every sense of the word. You don’t need a car to get here. The transition between modes of transport is so smooth that you will feel that a car is the least convenient option. Tram platforms, bus stations and even the world’s largest underground bicycle parking is located right on the premises. If you are travelling through this train station, then your trip is certain to be an uninterrupted symphony of efficiency. The processes of parking your bicycle or car, as well as the process of buying train tickets are highly automated, so even a shy tourist will quickly get around and get on the train they need to get on. The attention to detail in this train station is simply sublime, and it represents a reason on its own to travel by train across Europe. Utrecht Centraal is a fantastic example of human-friendly infrastructure, with pleasant design and integration of green areas on the outside of the station. It is definitely worth a visit.