What's the difference between a depot and a station?

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What's the difference between a depot and a station?
Posted by Cricketer on Monday, June 18, 2007 5:45 PM

I read references in Trains to depots and stations, but can't work out if they are interchangeable, or there are some subtle differences that have passed me by. Over in the UK everything is a station, from a single platform to a multi-track terminus. There used to be "halts" defined, I think as not being staffed, but the halt/station distinction ended many years ago.

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, June 18, 2007 9:02 PM

 

My guess would be.  A depot is a terminal, and or major transfer place.

( Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station, NY, etc.)

 

 

A station would be a stop along the train route.

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Posted by nbrodar on Monday, June 18, 2007 9:07 PM

By the strictest US definition: a station is any point named in the Timetable; and a depot is a building.

Nick

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 4:05 PM
Usually a crew will refer to a depot as there off duty point.  A station is where passenger and detrained and intrained.  Depot- crew, station-passenger.
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 9:19 PM

As Nick said, a station is any point named on the employee timetable.  John Armstrong, in an article on modeling the White Pass and Yukon, published a photo of a WP&Y station - a sign board on a post, next to otherwise totally unremarkable single track.

Depot comes from the French, a storage place.  Since most early stations had buildings which, among other things, allowed for the storage of freight or supplies, the name attached itself to the building at the station.

Chuck (modeling Central Japan in September, 1964 - with eki)

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, August 23, 2012 12:37 PM

Anonymous
Usually a crew will refer to a depot as there off duty point.  A station is where passenger and detrained and intrained.  Depot- crew, station-passenger.

Back in the days when travel by train was much more common than it is now, calling the place where trains stopped a depot was quite common, even though crews did change at there. I had not been aware of the distinction that Anonymous made.

Johnny

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Posted by John WR on Thursday, August 23, 2012 1:12 PM

I've lived in the US most of my life and I have never heard the term "depot" used.  However, I have seen it in books.  The books are talking about places in the mid west or west.  

Usually the word I have heard is "station" for any place a train stops including a terminal.  Back when I rode the New Haven Railroad I remember conductors saying "Grand Central Station" although it is really a terminal.  However, if you ride the train to Hoboken the announcement will be "Hoboken Terminal" which is accurate.  

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Posted by MidlandMike on Thursday, August 23, 2012 2:53 PM

John WR

I've lived in the US most of my life and I have never heard the term "depot" used.  However, I have seen it in books.  The books are talking about places in the mid west or west.  ...

I grew up in New York, but lived in the mid-west since college days, and was trying to recall if I heard the word depot while still in NY.  I checked some of of the NY places I was familiar with and found Bedford Hills station was at Depot Plaza, and Saranac Lake station was on Depot St.  Maybe depot is more of an old time term.

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Posted by NittanyLion on Thursday, August 23, 2012 3:34 PM

Depot is a French word that means storehouse.  To me, it seems pretty clear that its origins lie in the "depot" being, among other things, a "storehouse" for shipments that have arrived.

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Posted by henry6 on Thursday, August 23, 2012 4:02 PM

Yes, when I think of depot, anyway, I think in terms of a depsotory where things are stored while awaiting the next move, thus a building as opposed to the location.  Station would designate and name the location where trains stopped or left from.   A depot at the station would indicate a place where freight, mail, and express were handled and where passengers could buy tickets and wait.

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Thursday, August 23, 2012 5:10 PM

John WR

I've lived in the US most of my life and I have never heard the term "depot" used.  However, I have seen it in books.  The books are talking about places in the mid west or west.  

Usually the word I have heard is "station" for any place a train stops including a terminal.  Back when I rode the New Haven Railroad I remember conductors saying "Grand Central Station" although it is really a terminal.  However, if you ride the train to Hoboken the announcement will be "Hoboken Terminal" which is accurate.  

The address of the Train Station in Salisbury, NC:

279 Depot St, Salisbury, NC 28144

Dave

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Posted by John WR on Thursday, August 23, 2012 6:34 PM

Your right, Dave.  I remember riding the DL&W with Phoebe to Salisbury.  It was a strange trip.  And, as I got off the train in my spotless white suit I got a big smudge when a coal shovel hit me in my backside.  

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Thursday, August 23, 2012 6:42 PM

Now now, John.  You know she didn't go to NC.

Of course I know the rest of the story is probably true.

Dave

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Posted by John WR on Thursday, August 23, 2012 7:38 PM

Like I said, Dave, the trip was strange.  When we got on at Hoboken I thought we were going to Buffalo.  We pulled out of Scranton but instead of going to Binghamton we seem to have made a wrong turn.  Anywhere, we we going along a river and I looked out and saw a station sign that said "Lambertville, NJ." The train stopped, Phoebe took me out and we caught a cab to a small hotel next to a wishing well.  Well, I'm embarrassed to tell you what happened there but the next day we caught the same train in Lambertville and went on not stopping until finally the train pulled in to Salisbury.  Well, I was really captivated by Phoebe and she wanted to get off there and what else could I do?   Right there on Depot Street was the Depot Hotel.  We paid for our room and stayed I don't know how long.  And then all of a sudden we were back in Hoboken.  Phoebe wanted the trip to be our secret and I've never told anyone about it except you so please keep it a secret.  But I never got to Buffalo.  And I never could get that black smudge off the seat of my pants.  

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Thursday, August 23, 2012 8:54 PM

A picture for your wallet to remind you of the trip.

Dave

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Thursday, August 23, 2012 8:58 PM

Have you ever considered writing romance novels?  Train themed, of course.

Dave

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, August 24, 2012 4:37 AM

Depot was the Frrench word used by railroads to designate an important station in the 19th Century.   The Coommodore Vanderbilt-built building that preceded today's 100+ year old Grand Central Terminal was called Grand Central Depot.  A station can be anyplace a train has a scheduled stop, from a simple road crossing with a sign to a large ediface like 30th Stret Station or Grand Central Terminal, both of which could have been classed as Depots in the 19th Century.   A Terminal is a stub-end station where trains temrinate and originate and a station is a through station where at least some trains run through.  Thus Pensylvania Station and Graand Central Terminal.   Theere were exceptions with local usage, like Reading Terminal, which it was, and for some reason Broad Street Station, which was also a terminal.  Then there was the Oakland Mole, instead of the Oakland Terminal, for the SP!

Grand Central Station refers to a Post Office as well as Subway Station.

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Posted by John WR on Friday, August 24, 2012 10:31 AM

I'll have to talk to Phoebe about my new career writing novels.  

"Grand Central Depot?"  I refuse to believe it.  What did old Corneil know about railroads?

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Posted by Champlain Division on Tuesday, September 04, 2012 7:39 PM

For the most part, amomng the general population, "Station" and "Depot" are synonymous terms in the US generally used to refer to a current or former building used for the purpose of railroad passenger travel and/or freight shipment.  Use of the terms can also vary by region and between generations.  My dad might have called it a Depot; but I might call it a Station.

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Posted by parlordome on Tuesday, September 04, 2012 8:10 PM

"Depot" I think of as a small town or mid-size city station, and big cities as having, e.g., Grand Cenrtral Station, Union Station, Penn Station, etc. But I've also used them interchangeably. Somehow "depot" seemed more common in the Midwest and "station" in the East, even for small communities' commuter train stations.

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, September 05, 2012 3:28 AM

Again, Grand Central Station refers to a subway station or a post office.   The New York Central and its tenant, the New York New Haven and Hartford, used Grand Central Terminal, now used exclusively by Metro North.

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Posted by schlimm on Wednesday, September 05, 2012 7:35 AM

Dave:  While "Terminal" is the official name, many people, local and visitors,  have called it "Grand Central Station" for many years.  And many, many years ago, there was a radio show that opened with

(locomotive whistle)
(rapidly, and in a hushed voice)
As a bullet seeks its target, shining rails in every part of our great country are aimed at Grand Central Station, heart of the nation's greatest city. Drawn by the magnetic force of the fantastic metropolis, day and night, great trains rush toward the Hudson River, sweep down its eastern bank for one hundred and forty miles, flash briefly by the long red row of tenement houses south of 125th street, 
(bell begins and continues) 
dive with a roar into the two and a half mile tunnel which burrows beneath the glitter and swank of Park Avenue, and then. . .
(bell and crash of brakes)
(majestic voice. . .) 
Grand Central Station! . . .
(normal voice) 
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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, September 05, 2012 12:44 PM

Come to think of it, where I grew up, there was a Depot Road that lead to Huntington Station.

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Posted by Cricketer on Thursday, September 06, 2012 5:04 PM

As the original author of the first post I'm interested in the answers, but even more interested in how a dead thread from the best part of 5 years ago has suddenly come to life. Makes me feel proud.

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Posted by 54light15 on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 1:53 PM

In the U.K, Depot refers to a railway workshop not a station. Also, they call them rail stations, not train stations.

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Posted by John WR on Friday, September 21, 2012 8:48 PM

Oh, why can't the English learn to set

A good example to people whose English is painful to your ears?

The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears.

There even are places where English completelydisappears.

In America, they haven't used it for years!


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Posted by gordono on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 4:26 PM

Nick is correct that a station is any named point on a railroad.  Kind of like station points on an engineering survey.

A depot, however, is a railroad building that is staffed by a station agent with or without other assistants.

Gordon Osmundson

Lab
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Posted by Lab on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 5:45 PM

When I was a young child in the 40's, people always referred to the Grant Depot. This was Grant, Michigan a farm town of a few hundred people on the C&O. This was a single track with no connections at Grant. I remember both passenger and freight trains stopping there.

They had a water tower and sidings to set off cars for incoming and outgoing freight. They also handled Railway Express, so there would have been an agent.

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