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Station Area Planning for High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail


This station area planning document is a reference tool for State transportation departments and local and regional jurisdictions working in partnership with transportation agencies implementing high-speed and intercity passenger rail (HSIPR) projects. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) encourages dialogue with Federal, State, regional, and local partners on ways to better integrate passenger transport and land use. FRA has included topics, concepts, and ideas to assist local jurisdictions and others accomplish successful station area planning and achieve an optimal integration of the station in its context — to ensure ridership growth and capture livability, sustainability, and economic benefits. Rail stations will differ depending on their location — downtown, airport transfer, suburban, and small town. While every station area is unique and should reflect local context, culture and climate, some common principles apply to the creation of forms and public spaces regardless of location. This document offers three such principles along with recommended strategies for the creation of places that invite people to stay and enjoy, and that enhance the economy and sustainability of the region.

This document is organized around the following station area planning principles:

    • Optimize the station location.
    • Maximize station connections with other transportation modes.
    • Shape it through urban design;
    • Focus infill development around the station.

These principles and related strategies draw upon transit-oriented development (TOD) concepts. Through compact development and enhanced transit, walkways and bikeways, TOD can increase access, or the ease of connection between places at the scale of the station area. This in turn enables the transport network to increase access for passengers at the scale of the city. Better access to a number of focus areas attracts development and can help to stem sprawl. For Federal Transit Administration publications on TOD, see this webpage.