There are many different ways to measure the size of a train station,
- passenger number (check out Japanese stations, the busiest is Shinjuku Station Tokyo),
- number of platforms (Grand Central Terminal NYC)
- floor area Hongqiao was the biggest in the world with a site area of 1,3m square meter and a building area of 230 000 square meters. It could only claim the title for a very short time, as many more massive stations were built in China, for example (arranged per building area):
Beijing West Station, 700 000 square meters
Guangzhou South Station, 615 000 square meters
Nanjing South Station, 458 000 square meters
Beijing South Station, 420 000 square meters
Zhengzhou East Station, 410 000 square meters
Shenzhen North Station, 400 000 square meters
Wuhan station, 370 000 square meters
Shijiazhuang Station, 350 000 square meters
Hangzhou East Station, 340 000 square meters
Xi’an North Station, 338 000 square meters
For sure Hongqiao is the biggest station I’ve ever seen and it’s main hall is so immense, that you can’t see the other end on a smoggy day in Shanghai. Also it has 61,000 square meters of solar panels on the roof, six times more than the station I know well in the Netherlands, Rotterdam Centraal.
When you arrive at the station in the evening, the metro will no longer run, and you depend on taxis, which are rather badly organised at this station, so you can easily end up queuing for more than an hour. It happened to us that we arrived late at the station and I claustrophobicly realised that there is no way out of the station as a pedestrian. So if you decide to walk (or cycle) home from Hongqiao station, you can forget it!
A little bit stressed at the idea to have to queue for one hour and on the other hand astonished that we couldn’t find a pedestrian exit, we walked through a tunnel exit meant for taxis, whilst someone was shouting at us that this was not allowed. We ended up walking onto the elevated highway that is connected directly to the station’s taxi area.
Though we did get a taxi more quickly whilst outside on the (car only) highway, I wouldn’t recommend it.