Spatial Competition between Railway Stations

Policy makers and railway operators share a similar goal, increasing the use of rail, whether to meet policy goals (e.g. improved accessibility) or to improve the railways' financial viability. The key factor in rail use is the number and location of railway stations and their catchment area. Opening new stations, to reduce access/egress distance to/from the station, can be a way to increase rail use, but it is costly and can result in travel time penalties for passengers using the line but not the (new) station.

Due to the value of transport services they provide (node value) and the value of other services (e.g. retail - place value), railway stations have an economic impact on their surroundings. This is (partly) manifested in the prices of real-estates around stations. This impact can play an important role in the financial viability of the railways, and in itself can justify changes in the number and location of railway stations in a given network.

Spatial competition between stations would normally exist in large cities where demand for rail is served through several railway stations. Such competition can be counter productive in terms of increasing rail use and improving the railways' financial viability. In the above context the SCaRSe research main question is: Do overlaps in railway stations' catchment and impact areas represent a burden on railways' financial viability while not contributing to the use of rail as a mode of transport?

To answer the above question, the following objectives are set, which also illustrate the methodology adopted:

  • Measuring railway stations' catchment areas and assessing the factors influencing it;
  • Measuring railway stations' impact areas and assessing the factors influencing it;
  • Mapping the railway stations' catchment and impact areas and identifying overlaps; and
  • Evaluating the extent to which overlaps in the catchment and impact areas of railway stations affect overall rail use and the railways' financial viability.


  • Givoni, M. and Rietveld, P. (2010) Access to rail in urban areas - examination of the number of stations. Transport Studies Unit Working Paper (Ref. 1044), School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford. Download TSU Working Paper #1044 PDF: 1.02MB
  • Givoni, M. and Rietveld, P. (2009) Access to rail in urban areas - can there be too many stations? Presentation to the 1st NECTAR Transatlantic Conference, 18-20 June 2009, Arlington (Virginia, USA). Download Presentation PDF: 1.33MB


This research is supported by a Marie Curie European Reintegration Grant within the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme. The views represented in this project and its associated reports and presentation are those of the authors only.

Further Information

For more information on this research project please contact Dr Moshe Givoni.