Originally posted by Seedle
IIRC, the arrow does need to be towards the (automobile)road, but it does not matter how the railroad touches. But yes, it is difficult to get ridership on railroads, especially freight. Some tips, but I'm hardly a SimCity4 master:
Keep your stations far apart, or in separate cities. People like to ride long distances, they'll drive or bus shorter ones.
Have Bus Stations next to all passenger rail stations, and make sure bus stations serve as many buildings as possible through out your city. It sounds counter intuitive, since you'd think that if you busses go everywhere, people would just ride them. But what actually happens is they ride the bus, instead of driving, to the station, then ride the bus to from the station to work. People will generally only walk 5 tiles or so from mass transit to destination, so to get people on trains, you must either spam train stations, or provide bus transport.
For Freight stations, they won't be used near the edge of the city, the simulation will always just use the roads to get them off the landform as quickly as possible. Even in the center, it's hard to get high usage on them. The key thing is to make it easier to get goods to the station than to anywhere else. Also, industry buildings directly next to a railroad will use it automatically, no need for a freight station. If you have a railroad running through your industrial zones, they may will be shipping by train, but your station won't be used because it is superfluous.
Hope this helps a little.