I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the Cityrail network recently, as part of my research on planned future extensions. I also got to see it all as part of my Cityrail Challenge. In doing so, I started learning a bit about the history of the Cityrail network and have decided to start an ongoing series entitled the “History of Cityrail”.
Today I will provide a brief introduction through to the completion of the Harbour Bridge in 1932, and then every second post will sequentially detail the changes to the nextwork through to the present day.
The history of Cityrail dates back to 1855, when the line between Sydney (now between Central and Redfern stations) and Parramatta (now Granville) opened, today part of the Western Line. Over the following 70 years, additional lines were built going West from Granville to Penrith and Richmond (the Western Line), South from Granville to Campbelltown (the South Line), North from Strathfield to Hornsby (the Northern Line) and back South to North Sydney (the North Shore Line), South from Sydney to Sutherland (the Illawarra Line), and West from Sydney to Bankstown (the Bankstown Line).
The late 1920s to early 1930s saw an expansion of Sydney’s rail network in 2 significant ways. First, it began to be electrified, with electric trains replacing steam engines, allowing them to enter underground subway portions of track. This was critical for the second addition: a CBD subway system that would also link up Central Station on the Southern end of Sydney’s CBD to North Sydney on the North Shore Line via a new bridge over Sydney Harbour. During this time a rail line to the East Hills was also built, the first electric line to be built as electric from the start rather than converted.
In charge of this was engineer Dr John Bradfield, who is today famous for overseeing the design and construction of the Harbour Bridge and is considered as the father of Sydney’s modern rail system. The Great Depression and Second World War brought an end to his plans to continue building the network, which also included an Eastern Suburbs Railway (a shortened version of which eventually opened in 1979), a rail line going West through Rozelle before roughly following Parramatta Road and a rail line to the Northern Beaches that would use the 2 Eastern Lanes on the Harbour Bridge that were initially used by trams.
For anyone interested in historical maps of the Cityrail network, I highly recommend the Netzplan website. It has old maps of the network, both as originally designed and as they would look in today’s design.
Next time: the Clyde to Rosehill electrification.