Railway Stations are the core component of any railway network. They allow any and all goods to be loaded and unloaded onto trains. For your network, it is best to have your station off the main line so there is no unnecessary traffic passes through them causing delays for trains using the station.
For simple networks with one or two trains, these stations will work fine.
These stations are at the end of the line. Trains go out the same side they came in. Trains entering the station must wait for trains leaving and vice-versa, causing unnecessary delays. It's best to not use Terminus stations unless space is limited, as in cities or mountainous regions.
Ro-Ro stands for Roll-On, Roll-Off (or Roll In, Roll Out, depending who you ask) - trains enter the bottom end of station and exit the other end. Trains entering the station do not have to wait for trains leaving. This is great for medium amounts of traffic. It's no good for high-traffic stations (e.g., stations serving factories) because once all platforms are full, the train waits at the two way signal for the platform closest to the entrance. This can lead to gridlock if the blocking train has full load orders, and it is waiting for another train to drop off raw material cargo.
For larger train networks, the above stations probably won't be able to handle all of the trains assigned to them. You will need more advanced track layouts and signals.
What happens when a third train arrives at one of the above stations? It sees both two-way signals are red, so it just picks the closest one and waits for the light to change. If the other platform empties while the third train is waiting, the platform will stay empty.
What about the queues that form as trains line up to enter a station? These lines can stretch far, and can even hold up your entire train network!
Stations with pre-signals make arriving trains wait outside the station until there is a free platform.
A good solution to hold a queue of trains waiting to enter a station is a multi-line waiting bay. If the station is full, an arriving train picks the closest empty track in the waiting bay. When a spot opens in the station, one of the waiting trains will move in. Make sure a train can fit between the signals. The pre-signals are optional; they help if your waiting bay fills up too! The following example with a 3-way bay.
Instead of using pre-signals, you can build a loop around track. When a train enters the station and sees all the two way signals are red (platforms are full) except the loop around track, it will take the loop around track. It loops around and around, waiting for a free platform. A problem with this system is other arriving trains can steal the free platform while the first train is looping around. Remember to make the loop big enough to fit at least your longest train.
Another way of controlling station overflow is an "escape depot." Place a depot in the two-way/one-way signal set up at the entrance. Depots automatically have a two way signal in them so behave just like a loop around track. Escape depots, unlike loops, have an unlimited capacity. The best layout has a depot at both ends of the station entrance.
Normally, when two trains leave a station at once, one must stop and give way to the other. This leaves one train half in the station and half out, leaving that platform unusable to any other trains trying to enter the station. Long exits allow the train to pull out of the station completely before it hits the red signal, freeing up the platform for any trains on their way into the station. Note the length of the exit track, 7 squares - the length of the longest train plus two more squares, so the train can fit neatly between the signals.
If you play with realistic acceleration, faster trains slow down a good bit before stopping in a station. This can delay the next train from entering. Adding a few track sections in front of the station can help with this.
This is a type of design used for stations that handle a huge number of trains, such as the stations servicing factories or food processing plants. Trains coming from one place can use loading bays meant for other trains if need be. Be sure to use pre-signals.
If your rail network has large trains going long distances, it can be very cost effective to "feed" their loading station with more cargo from nearby industries. In the pictured station, there are 4 bays for small trains to transfer coal from nearby mines. Large trains then deliver the coal to a far away power station.
NewGRF StationsNewGRF Stations, or newstations, are available after you have activated a Newstations grf file. You will then have access to a new station-building GUI.
The new GUI has a drop down box of station groups. Each group has a number of station tiles to choose from. Select a station tile and it will be previewed in the orientation boxes. Some newstation tiles do not allow trains to enter for the effect of full buildings or buffer stops. Be aware when placing newstation tiles that some tiles do not allow more than so many tracks or squares. The numbers not allowed will be greyed out and you cannot build this size. Some newstations sets offer more visual effects than others. For example, in Michael Blunck's newstations, passengers will gather on station platforms as the waiting cargo increases.
If the station set contains newgrf waypoints, the Waypoint GUI will open upon selecting it. You will have full previews of every waypoint possible for you to build. Most waypoints have introduction and obsoletion dates, in which waypoint styles will be replaced by newer versions. However, any waypoints you have already built will not automatically changed, allowing for variation on your networks.
Newstations behave the same as normal stations; the only difference is the non-track tiles that block trains.