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One basic difference is that railway stations tend to connect a wider range of transport systems than ports and airports do. This wider variety of networks interconnecting at stations is reflected in a more fragmented style of management. No sharp separation exists (yet, in most cases) between the management of transport infrastructure and that of services. And different market and subsidized transport regimes coexist. The opposite, at least in principle, tends to be true of seaports and airports. There, port authorities that commercially exploit the node infrastructure have a longer-standing tradition.

A second basic difference lies in the spatial reach. The reach of the system is more limited in stations (where the regional scale dominates) than in seaports and airports (where the international scale dominates). A third difference is in the adaptability of network configurations: lower for railway networks, higher for air routes and waterway networks. Most importantly, seaports, railway stations and airports offer very different degrees of space— time compression and thereby quite divergent transport growth dynamics in their volume of activity. In Europe, the contrast between intense development in air transport and relative stagnation in the other two modes is striking. For stations this pattern is reinforced by the higher spatial constraints on transport growth. As these patterns evolve, the above differences are reflected in the passenger and freight markets served by airports, stations and seaports. Airports accommodate global business and leisure travellers, and transfer higher-added-value freight. Railroad stations cater for daily commuters and city users, and seaports transfer lower-added-value freight.

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