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This article is about the Half-Life 2 trainstation. For the Episode One trainstation, see Technical Trainstation.
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"Welcome. Welcome to City 17."
Wallace Breen[src]

The City 17 Trainstation[1] is the first location visited by Gordon Freeman in Half-Life 2. It is primarily a passenger train station converted by the Combine for use in transit between other cities and Nova Prospekt. It appears in the chapters Point Insertion, "A Red Letter Day", and Anticitizen One.


Food hall breen

The food hall inside the trainstation.

This trainstation is not the only one in City 17, and probably not the most important. It is not very crowded and the tracks appear obstructed when Gordon goes back to its vicinity at the start of his escape from Kleiner's Lab.

Under the main glass roof, several platforms receive Citizens from other cities coming in recycled human trains, while Wallace Breen welcomes them in one of his numerous Breencasts. There, Citizens are instructed by Metrocops to leave their luggage. City Scanners are flying around. After a turnstile, a corridor leads to the waiting room where the schedules are displayed (suggesting other similar cities exist, such as City 16, 15, 13, etc). After this follows a security checkpoint, with Metrocops. From there, three paths are possible: one leads to the Trainstation Plaza, the second leads to interrogation rooms where Gordon Freeman reunites with Barney Calhoun and Isaac Kleiner, and the third leads to the platform where Razor Trains leave to Nova Prospekt. The Plaza path leads to a corridor that then leads to the former main hall of the station, transformed into a food hall, where Citizens queue for their food packages at a Combine Dispenser. There, another Breencast is also playing. Another corridor leads to the Trainstation Plaza, where the same Breencast is broadcast on a screen attached to an obelisk at the center, facing the train station's main facade.

HalfLife2 City17 TrainStationSquare

Each road is blocked by Combine Barricade checkpoints, leading to different precincts and watched by cameras. A Combine Watchtower is also attached to one of the buildings. At the time of the City 17 uprising, the main trainstation entrance is sealed by Combine technology[3] and the whole area is heavily damaged, with Combine Smart Barriers having destroyed most of the surrounding buildings.

Behind the scenes

Facade evolution

The WC mappack contains several maps showing the evolution of the trainstation facade and the plaza, most of them last edited in 2002, after which the trainstation was remade almost from scratch. The trainstation main entrance was never to be used since the player was to access the plaza from a tunnel coming from the Combine Factories area, the first City 17 area visited right after the trainstation. It is unknown what the plans for the trainstation itself were at this point in development, since the only known WC mappack maps of the trainstation inside are the maps from the playable Half-Life 2 Beta, which are almost identical to the final version, and the concept art made by Viktor Antonov was made on a modified version of the stenographer's chasm building.[4][5][6] The old City 17 originally contained several plazas (the trainstation one, the Breen/Consul statue one, the Breen/Consulcast one, etc.) which were finally merged into a single plaza.

  1. This first known version shows the trainstation located along a road near the Combine Factories area. The facade is made of bricks and features three pediments and three arches on the main building. Tracks are located behind, under a glass roof. The place is filled with Metrocops and Combots. A brush APC is parked nearby while Citizens are queuing.[7]
  1. The road is enlarged to become a plaza, the building is opened, some prototype Combine technology is added inside (not shown). The brick textures are replaced by stone textures and the building is emptied. The glass-roofed building is completely remade and features more stone ornaments. Two stone columns are added to the plaza.[8] The nearby Combine Factories are cut off from the area, while the improved glass-roofed building can be found in some subsequent versions.[9]
  1. The building with pediments is replaced by another smaller stone building, also with three arches on the main building. The plaza gets even larger.[10]
  1. The new stone building is modified, more columns are added, and it features a lift and a cable car that crosses the plaza. The stone columns are replaced by actual models, each one with a horse on its top (one exemplar of the column appears at the end of the Half-Life 2 chapter "Follow Freeman!"). The APC is also replaced by the first APC model. The Citizens queuing, the Metrocops, and the Scanners are still there. The Combine Factories are now completely cut, though the buildings are still suggested. This is the map "e3_terminal.vmf" (a modified version of "d1_terminal_01.vmf") which is an E3 demonstration map and not a storyline one. The next version, remade almost from scratch, is the current version seen in Half-Life 2.


Budapest West Station

The Western Railway Station in Budapest, Hungary.

  • The City 17 Trainstation was designed by Viktor Antonov. In Raising the Bar, he states that the first version of the Trainstation was much more fantasist and very close to the Western Railway Station, in Budapest, Hungary designed by August de Serres and built by the Eiffel Company. He adds that the final version was more closely based on a train station near where he used to live in Paris.[1] However, he might refer only to the inside of the trainstation (thus the halls and corridors), as the final version of the main facade and the platforms in the back are still reminiscent of that Budapest trainstation, that appears to be the Budapest Western railway station ("Budapest Nyugati pályaudvar" in Hungarian). Simplifying the facade clearly reveals the Half-Life 2 trainstation.
  • The player's path through the trainstation was meant to play a role similar to that of the tram ride in Half-Life, i.e. reveal the story setting to the player. In Half-Life 2, the story would unfold at the player's own speed, rather than on a fixed rail, and come about through interaction with the characters naturally found in that setting.[1]
  • The Trainstation Plaza was originally called "Terminal Square," then "Terminal Plaza," which constitutes most of the E3 map "Terminal." The "Terminal Hotel" seen on the plaza in the retail version is a reminiscence of this old name.
  • The scene where Barney calls Kleiner in his lab to tell him Gordon has returned is a bit longer in the playable Half-Life 2 Beta. Most of the sentences were kept but rerecorded, while others, revealing more plot and setting information to the player, have been cut.[11]
  • Early screenshots and the playable Half-Life 2 Beta show that the Citadel originally appeared in the first map, and was to be seen from the tracks behind the platforms, where the game starts. As Gordon does not go to that location after the teleportation failure in Kleiner's Lab, as he was not to discover the Citadel before the plaza and as the area beyond the glass roof cannot be seen in the final game, it was deemed irrelevant and was removed.
  • Strangely enough, Kleiner's Lab is extremely close to the City 17 Trainstation. Obvious security precautions would have rather placed the lab very far from a very crowded and security-enforced place like a train station. An explanation for this choice is that several levels originally set between the train station and the lab were cut from the final version, such as the Manhack Arcade and the Combine Factories. Therefore, the original lab was initially much farther from the train station than it is now.


Concept art




List of appearances


See also

External links

Preceded by
Half-Life 2 story arc journey Succeeded by
Kleiner's Lab
Preceded by
Half-Life 2 original storyline
(City 17 Trainstation)
Succeeded by
Combine Factories
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