History of Cityrail: Penrith electrification (1955)

Posted: October 2, 2011 in Transport
Tags: , , , ,

The Western Line began as the Sydney to Parramatta railway, opened in 1855. This was extended out to Blacktown in 1860, to Penrith in 1863 and through the Blue Mountains by 1869. The line was electrified between Sydney CBD and Parramatta in 1928, at the same time as many other lines in the Cityrail network. The remainder of the line, between Parramatta and Penrith, would not be electrified until 1955. The Richmond Line, which connected to the Western Line at Blacktown, would not be electrified until 1991, though it was partly electrified in 1975.

There’s not a lot for me to say on this, so I’m going to talk a bit about closed lines on the Western Line (between Parramatta and Penrith, to keep on theme). Historically, there were three lines built that connected to the Western Line that would later be closed.

The first was a freight line between Toongabbie and Prospect which opened in 1902 and closed in 1945.

Another was the Ropes Creek Line, which connected up to St Marys, and was opened in the 1940s during World War 2 to service a weapons factory. The Ropes Creek Line was closed in the 1980s.

Finally is the Rogan’s Hill Line, which began as a steam tramway between Parramatta and Baulkham Hills that was opened in 1902 (later extended to Castle Hill in 1910). The tramway went up Church Street in Parramatta towards Northmead, before taking Windsor Road to Baulkham Hills and then Old Northern Road to Castle Hill. The tramway was converted to heavy rail in 1923, with a new section of the line constructed between Westmead and Northmead, then following the tramway route through to Castle Hill. Like the tramway, the rail line was single track. It was extended to Rogan’s Hill in 1924, giving the line it’s name. This line didn’t last long, and competition from buses caused it to close down in 1931, eventually allowing Windsor Road and Old Northern Roads to be widened. Today, the M60 and 600 bus roughly follows the original tramway route between Parramatta and Castle Hill.

Until the Northwest Rail Link is completed, the Rogan’s Hill Line remains the only instance of rail in Sydney’s Northwest. While the Northwest Rail Link follows a completely different alignment to the Rogan’s Hill Line (really they only intersect at Castle Hill, one is East-West and the other is North-South), there does exist a proposal to build a line that roughly follows the Rogan’s Hill alignment. This would be an underground line from Parramatta to Castle Hill via Northmead and Baulkham Hills (with probable stations at North Parramatta and Winston Hills) and last received a voice from the Parramatta Council when it tried to push for an amended Northwest Rail Link that went via Parramatta. This proposal never got off the ground, for reasons which I will cover in the future.

  1. Bill Shannon says:

    Penrith 1955 Electrification Celebration day: I was present at the 1955 celebrations in Penrith, but can not find any information on the internet. If anyone has any details, please post. I won the 100 m open footrace on the day, barefooted. Guest appearances during the day were Betty Cuthbert and Marlene Mathews – unfortunately I did not meet them. Bill

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