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Ticket to Ride Europe introduces train stations to connect cities through routes that belong to other players. It recently became a point of debate whether stations can be used to connect cities over empty routes. Upon reviewing the rules I found them to be somewhat ambiguous.

The rules state that a station allows its owner "to use one ... of the routes belonging to another player."

Building a train station

A Train Station allows its owner to use one, and only one, of the routes belonging to another player, into (or out of) that city to help him connect the cities on his Destination Tickets.

Further along the rules state that stations can be built on a city even if it currently has no claimed routes into it.

Stations may be built on any unoccupied city, even if it currently has no claimed routes into it.

To me belonging to another player means the route must be occupied by another player. Yet stations can be built on cities that have no routes built into them.

I think the entire point of stations is to give players an opportunity to complete routes that have been taken by other players; otherwise, there should be nothing to prevent the player from building into their destinations. Allowing players to build stations on cities with no routes built into them opens the possibility to easily complete routes by placing a station without having to pay the cost of the route. This could prove decisive at the end of the game.

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2 Answers 2

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I don't actually see any ambiguity here. You've quoted the rule saying a Station allows you to use someone else's route. I don't see how that could imply that a Station can complete a route that hasn't yet been filled in by anyone.

The reason you are allowed to place Stations on any city, including currently unlinked cities, is to allow you to place a Station strategically, before anyone else. This is important, because only one player can control a Station in any given city. If you suspect that in the late game you will need a Station in a city, or you would like to block other players from placing a Station, then this could be a smart move.

The purpose of Stations is to give you the possibility of still completing routes, albeit at some cost (since you don't get your four points at the end for the unused Station). As you point out, if you could use them to effectively 'jump' the last leg of a route, then that would change the entire dynamic, and would indeed make Stations much more powerful.

So based on the rules, and the intended use of Stations, I'm quite confident that completing empty routes using Stations is not intended, or legal. Someone that's played the online version of the game could confirm this, though.

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I don't think the rules are ambiguous. The first rule says that a station may be used to share another player's claimed route. The second rule says that a station can be built even if there are no claimed routes into that city. The second rule doesn't mean that you are using one of those empty routes, it means you can build a station and then wait until one of the routes is claimed. Then you can use that route by using the station that you had already put there. The station enables you to share one route with another player, so that the route counts for both players at the same time.

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