The main concourse occupies almost the entire block bounded by De la Gauchetière Street, Robert-Bourassa Boulevard, René Lévesque Boulevard and Mansfield Street in Downtown Montreal. Its street address and principal vehicular access are on de La Gauchetière; pedestrian access is assured by numerous links through neighboring buildings. The station is adorned with art deco bas-relief friezes on its interior and exterior. The station building and associated properties are owned by Cominar REIT as of January 2012. Homburg Invest Inc. (renamed Canmarc in September 2011) was the previous owner, since November 30, 2007. Prior to that, from the station's inception in 1943, it had been owned by Canadian National Railway (CN).
Central Station is at the centre of the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor, the busiest inter-city rail service area in the nation (marketed as the Corridor), which extends from Windsor and Sarnia in the west, through Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal, to Quebec City in the east. Inter-city trains at Central Station are operated by Via Rail and Amtrak, while commuter rail services are operated by Réseau de transport métropolitain (RTM). The station is also connected to the Montreal Metro subway system.
Central Station opened in 1943, after several years of construction. It stands on the site originally occupied by the terminus of the Canadian Northern Railway's Tunnel Terminal which had originally opened in 1918.
Following the bankruptcy of the Grand Trunk Railway, the Government of the Dominion of Canada decided to consolidate the Grand Trunk Railway with the various Canadian Government Railways to form the Canadian National Railways (CNR). The merger left CNR with a somewhat viable patchwork of different networks. CNR endured a highly uncomfortable position in Montreal due to the scattering of its terminals.