It generally consists of at least one track-side platform and a station building (depot) providing such ancillary services as ticket sales and waiting rooms. If a station is on a single-track line, it often has a passing loop to facilitate traffic movements. The smallest stations are most often referred to as "stops" or, in some parts of the world, as "halts" (flag stops).
In British English, traditional usage favours railway station or simply station, even though train station, which is often perceived as an Americanism, is now about as common as railway station in writing; railroad station is not used, railroad being obsolete there. In British usage, the word station is commonly understood to mean a railway station unless otherwise qualified. In American English, the most common term in contemporary usage is train station; railroad station and railway station are less common, though they have been more common in the past.
In addition to its use for storage facilities, in North America the term depot is sometimes used as an alternative name for station, along with the compound forms train depot, railway depot, and railroad depot, but also applicable for goods and other vehicles.
The world's first recorded railway station was The Mount on the Oystermouth Railway (later to be known as the Swansea and Mumbles) in Swansea, Wales, which began passenger service in 1807, although the trains were horsedrawn rather than by locomotives.